They say writing about music is difficult. Try playing music dedicated to static, nonmusical objects.
That’s what Locust Music’s new Object Series sets out to accomplish. Improvisers are given objects such as the bowling ball, brillo pad, and chest x-ray depicted on the cover of this recording and asked to react to the visual.
Non-animal and non-vegetable materials have inspired musicians throughout history; think of train songs and car songs. But what about stationary things such as rocks? They may be lifeless, but certainly aren’t soulless.
Trumpeter Axel Dörner (Lines, No Spaghetti Edition, Sven-Ake Johansson) and cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm (Terminal 4, Pillow, Boxhead Ensemble, Peter Brotzmann Tentet) are up to the task, at least they give it a sporting try. The clickety-clack of trains is replaced by the tentative approach to the texture of a hard bowling ball and the metallic sandpaperness of brillo. Nobody wants to step forward and say it, but sound replaces music here. Like a fluxus dedication to the inane, inanimate objects evoke strange feelings. Period.
Dörner is a modern practitioner of finding the next way to play the trumpet. When he is playing acousticnot processing it through his laptop, as he does herehe evokes fluttered passages and breathy tones of unrecognizable sound. Dörner has a way of making his instrument morph into a machine or a whole factory of machine noise.
His counterpoint, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, has more to work with: strings, bows, and the body of his cello. He pops, slaps, and plucks into and out of his diverse palette of sounds to compliment Dörner’s release of air.
Not for the weak of stomach (or resolve), these abstract ruminations on simple objects remind us of Marcel Duchamps ‘ready-mades.’ Is it art? Is it music? Yes. No. Yes!