This live recording from a tour through Bulgaria in 1992 begs the questions: why Bulgaria? and, most importantly, why are there not more recordings from Hans Koch and Paul Lovens? Nephlokokkygia or "CloudCuckooLand" is seeing the light of day for the first time as, during the pandemic year of 2020, Koch edited tape recordings of the duo's tour performances. The two musicians had performed together in large ensembles, such as X- Communication which was perhaps the genesis of Butch Morris' Conductions.
This mini tour in 1992 gives an interesting glimpse into the workings of two musicians developing their sound together. Koch was originally trained as a classical musician but went on to embrace free improvisation, performing with the Cecil Taylor European Orchestra and the London Improvisers Orchestra. His longstanding trio Koch-Schütz-Studer with Fredy Studer and Martin Schütz, has released ten recordings. Besides Han Bennink, Paul Lovens may be the most celebrated European improvising drummer-percussionist working today. His associations with Alexander von Schlippenbach, Peter Brötzmann, Peter Kowald and Mats Gustafsson, to name just a few, attest to his durability and talent.
These four improvised pieces find Koch swapping between clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano and tenor saxophone. His sound, a kind of edgy and set-to- detonate mix of upper register runs and tightrope walking explorations fits hand-in-glove with Lovens' soundings. Notice with Paul Lovens we refer to sound instead of pulse. His preference for a singing drum kit with cymbals, gongs and, here, a musical saw elevates him from Koch's accompanist to confederate. For instance, "In Warna" finds Lovens wielding his saw which sounds very much like a theremin in the company of Koch's saxophone. When Lovens switches to his drum kit, Koch turns up the assertiveness of his performance. Each player is both feeding and being fed by the other. That interplay makes for a rich experience.
In Sofia; In Warna; In Russe; In Plovdiv.
Hans Koch: clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Paul Lovens: drums,
cymbals, gongs, musical saw.