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Music Unlimited Festival 2014

Eyal Hareuveni By

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The album's front sleeve promises a sonic spectacle including "the room shaking with demonic orchestras, the snatches of fearful sleep, the voices outside the window." The group delivered a similarly infectious, demonic set charged with wild, hypnotic rock energy and clever improvisations with rapid changes in mood and pulse, poetic rap lyrics and danceable tight grooves. This ensemble didn't rest for a second, bursting with uncompromised joy and playful creativity that highlighted the strong personalities of each musician. There were highly arresting solos by Provan—both as a trumpeter and vocalist, Szafirowski, Gibson and El Zin.

The first night concluded with a roaring set by Brazilian power trio Chinese Cookie Poets (guitarist Marcos Campello, electric bassist Felipe Zenicola and drummer Renato Godoy). They began with a hypnotic, ear-shattering drone that was just the introduction for brutal mayhem in the most extreme and loud terrains. There was no attempt to ease or slow the uncompromising onslaught, that only got fiercer and wilder but exploring more layers and colors in the dense, tight textures.

Second Day: Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014

Day two began with free afternoon concerts. The first took place in the impressive Stadtpfarrkirche (Parish Church) and featured a solo, church organ improv by contemporary Austrian composer Christoph Herndler. He structured a long piece beautifully, wisely employing the church's high space and resonant acoustics. He exhausted the pipes' full sonic spectrum to create almost endlessly rich tones with echoed overtones. A constant flow of resonant gentle sounds, formed ageless, slow- morphing architectural textures.

Immediately after the end of this concert, the audience moved to the historical Minoriten building, for the duo of Greek vocalist Savina Yannatou and British double bass master Barry Guy. The duo have recorded one acclaimed album, Attikos (Maya, 2010). Their performance relied on some pieces from that album, but as could be expected, especially from such creative masters, the set offered a much more profound experience of the art of the two.

Yannatou is gifted singer with amazing vocal range and an organic manner of vocal acrobatics stretching from primeval, wordless articulations to concise, highly personal song interpretations. Guy is also a gifted musician/improviser whose rich language covers Baroque music, jazz, free jazz and free improvisation who developed his own inventive techniques that includes playing the bass with brushes, a stringless bow and sticking metal sticks between strings. Both Yannatou and Guy played as if they were two lovers employing respective instruments in the service of a higher cause. With mutual innocence, playful teasing, humor, compassion, affection and always demonstrating attentive listening and support, finding new ways to enchant and inspire each other. During their too-short set, imaginative improvisations morphed naturally into songs that encompassed ancient traditional Mediterranean cultures, Baroque, contemporary or playful, free improvisations. It was music of the moment, magnificent in its depth, beauty and virtuoso delivery.

Back in Alter Schl8hof, the evening began with the twenty musicians of Austria's GIS (Go for Improvised Sounds} Orchestra, augmented by three composers—trumpeter Gigi Gratt, Christof Kurzmann and pianist Elisabeth Harnik. This orchestra was founded in 2012 featuring young musicians from Wels and the nearby city of Linz and is supported by the local Kulturverein Waschaecht Wels. The orchestra focused on conducted, game-like improvisations that enabled conductors as well as enthusiastic musicians a lot of freedom to experiment through different, even conflicting strategies in the various orchestral sections of vocalists, horns, rhythm, strings, keyboards and electronics. The skillful musicians immediately moved between playfully structured narratives, coherent in spirit; into joyful chaotic outbursts back and forth, often too noisy and almost too wild to contain, without subscribing to any genre or style.

The all-female chamber trio Till by Turning (pianist Emily Manzo, bassoon player Katherine Young and violinist Erica Dicker) presented a challenging contemporary program by composers Sofia Gubaidulina and Morton Feldman. Thoughtful improvisations and arresting sonic explorations focused on extended techniques and inventive exploration of silence and space.

Despite the demanding nature of this set and the often minimal, almost silent sonic articulations, the trio succeeded in keeping the audience carefully attuned to an adventurous journey. The most memorable piece of this set was Young's solo for bassoon and electronics, in which her inventive breathing techniques were enhanced by different effects until her breaths, the bassoon's total timbral range, and the electronics formed a strangely beautiful wall of inimitable sound.

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