The Berlin-based piano trio Oùat releases their first album with the seemingly paradoxical title Elastic Bricks. If you listen closely, there is nothing incongruent nor oxymoronic about the music. The studio recording from 2021 by pianist Simon Sieger, bassist Joel Grip, and drummer Michael Griener is an all acoustic instrumental affair with a twist. The vinyl edition comes with individual texts, paragraphs from writer Erin Honeycutt accompanying each of the nine compositions. Although no voice is heard, the written word definitely influences the the listening experience. Or, maybe not.
Let us back up a bit. The musicians, who can be heard in multiple ensembles including Satoko Fujii's Orchestra Berlin, Monk's Casino, Umlaut Big Band, Art Ensemble of Chicago and with musicians such as Sven-Åke Johansson, and Ellery Eskelin, reimagine the piano trio as a vehicle for storytelling. "Shall We" with its Thelonious Monk mathematics adheres to Honeycutt's text, "What shall we say when we do not know anymore what to say between the pauses?" The trio (and probably the listener) clearly has said caesura in mind here.
"Sommer" is a meditation on time. It is an Ahmad Jamal-like percussive creation where Honeycutt's words tell us "SOMMER arrived like there was no such thing as arrived." The trio takes her cues about destruction to assemble before disassembling the music. There's more arriving and departing with "Dala-Floda Departure," where Grip's double bass takes on the infectious characteristics of a mbira, an African thumb piano. "Tibia of The Mole" with its text "arriving ever arriving and falling..." draws from Duke Ellington's conceptions of modernity and automation, mixing slow stride with talking bass. The same textures pop with "Topsi Dance" and its reliance on stop/start locomotion and Honeycutt's words "When we flew we really flew like there was no tomorrow."
Shall We; Mother and Son; Sommer; Dala-Floda Departure; Height of Nothingness; Tibia Of
The Mole; Weihnachten; Topsi Dance; Borghini Ballade.