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Ned Rothenberg: El Nino and The Fell Clutch

Tom Greenland By

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Ned Rothenberg, Matthias Ziegler, Peter Schmid
El Nino
Creative Works
2006


Ned Rothenberg, Tony Buck, Stomu Takeishi, Dave Tronzo
The Fell Clutch
Animul
2006




"Unvorherhorbar," Meinrad Buholzer writes in the liner notes to El Nino, describing a new trio release by Ned Rothenberg, Matthias Ziegler and Peter Schmid. Roughly translated as 'unforehearable," this music is indeed that. As if Rothenberg's bass clarinet wasn't deep enough already, the addition of Ziegler's contrabass flute and Schmid's custom subcontrabass saxophone (aka Bb tubax) plunges the music to a sepulchral tone zone, the oscillating minimalistic melodies reverberating like depth soundings from a bathyscape. Interestingly, flutist Ziegler seems to be the primary keeper-of-the-groove, closely synched with Schmid's low-register "bass" lines, while Rothenberg serves up a series of his trademark cycling ostinatos that coil in on themselves, slowly transmuting and transmogrifying. Of note are Schmid's lower-than-low monastic mantras on the third track, Rothenberg's haunting Shakuhachi flute on the sixth and Ziegler's percussive articulations on the final cut.

The Fell Clutch—Rothenberg in collaborative collision with Australian drummer Tony Buck, Stomu Takeishi on fretless electric bass, Dave Tronzo on electric slide guitar and a cameo appearance by Joe Williamson on stand-up bass—takes it back to the dancehall. Well, sort of. Buck keeps it all in the pocket but, rather than repetitive backbeats on the snare, defines the time through omission: rolls over the bar line and drop-in kicks and fills. Elsewhere his rattles and bells create atmospheric rainwater effects. Takeishi holds down the bottom, the recording enhancing his low frequencies to give a broad, flat bass tone that fills without sounding boomy. Rothenberg, again, is a wizard of ostinatos, trading fast-moving figures with guitarist Tronzo in a game of musical telephone, the motifs morphing unpredictably as they are passed around from player to player.


Tracks and Personnel

El Nino

Tracks: SchRotZ #1; SchRotZ #2; SchRotZ #3; ZiSch #2; SchRoth #14; ShakuhaZiSch; ZiRoth #1; SchRotZ #5.

Personnel: Ned Rothenberg: alto saxophone, Bb & bass clarinet, shakuhachi; Matthias Ziegler: C flute, bass & contrabass flute, Matusi & quarter tone flute; Peter A. Schmid: Eb, bass & contrabass clarinet; subcontrabass saxophone (Bb tubax).

The Fell Clutch

Tracks: Moment of Reloading; Life in Your Years; Food for a Rambling; No Memes, Mom; Paint Drum; Brainy & Footsy; Dream by Day; The Violet Sheds; Epic in Difference; Ashes.

Personnel: Ned Rothenberg: alto saxophone, Bb & bass clarinet; Stomu Takeishi: fretless bass guitar; Ton Buck: drums; Tronzo: slide guitar; Joe Williamson: acoustic bass.

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