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Trio Heinz Herbert: The Willisau Concert

Glenn Astarita By

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Youthful ingenuity and meritorious technical aspects mark this Swiss trio's cunning live release at a Willisau venue, enhanced by a crystalline soundstage that spawns great depth amid the highs and lows. Moreover, their ability to multitask while generating a polytonal consortium of EFX-based treatments, while effortlessly sliding across numerous genres makes for a irrefutably compelling listen.

From the onset of the 18-minute opener "Granulare Liebe / LEI," it became clear that the trio was meticulously assembling a piece that would branch out into something much larger in scope as they worked through an abstract percussion vamp led by drummer Mario Hanni. It morphs into an intensifying and affectionately maddening sequence of mini-motifs, brushed with faint echoes and the music hall's natural reverb characteristics. Moving forward, the band ascends with quiet synth patterns, simmering cadences, ostinato grooves and Dominic Landolt's feverish distortion guitar phrasings. But the dynamic shifts a bit on the following track "Fragment Z / Brugguda," which resides somewhere in-between experimental ambient-electronica, minimalism and bizarre jazz rock stylizations, featuring the guitarist's scratchy fuzz-toned lines. And they add a cool piano-drums groove that comes out of nowhere, followed by ricocheting electronics. Bear in mind, these are structured works and not solely designed with free-floating improvisational metrics.

"Hyper Steps" is a curvy and rolling ballad driven by pianist Ramon Landolt's jazzy and daintily executed voicings, counterbalanced by a memorable hook. Yet "Heinz Steps" is launched with Dominic Landolt's Black Sabbath style shredding that dissipates into Ramon Landolt's softly textured effects, leading to an upbeat jazz vamp. However, they circle back around to a blitzkrieg modus operandi atop a buoyant pulse. Overall, this is one of those albums that separates itself from the proverbial pack and an unanticipated surprise that is nestled within one of those unrestricted musical zones that cannot be stereotyped or easily pigeonholed.

Track Listing: Granulare Liebe / LEI; Fragment Z / Brugguda; Hyper Down; Heinz Steps; Planet Cita K; Gumpi Ball.

Personnel: Dominic Landolt: guitar, effects; Ramon Landolt: synth, samples, piano; Mario Hänni: drums, effects

Title: The Willisau Concert | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Intakt Records

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