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Lotz / Kneer: U-EX(perimental)

Eyal Hareuveni By

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In 2009, Dutch flautist Mark Alban Lotz and bassist Meinrad Kneer initiated a monthly creative music series, titled U-EX(perimental), at Centraal Museum in Utrecht, presenting performances of spontaneous free improvisations. After about 120 concerts Lotz and Kneer decided to document some of these unique musical meetings in a tiny studio in Amsterdam—so tiny that there was no place for a drum set or piano.

The recording features improvisation in different formats, from duets to sextet, with musicians from the established and multinational Dutch improv scene, but also introducing some proponents of a new generation with careful and equal representation to women improvisers. Obviously, these improvisations vary in dynamics, temperament, color, timbral variation, usage of extended techniques and invention. All the improvisations are brief and seek to outline a musical idea with no attachment to further interplay.

The improvisations are sequenced in order to create a cohesive, uniting narrative. The minimalist chamber, "Hold" introduces the uplifting and playful "Rondo" that is summarized by Lotz and Kneer in "Conclusion." Then a new chapter begins when the two are challenged by the otherworldly sounds from Koenraad Ecker's laptop, followed by another experimental improvisation, with saxophonist Yedo Gibson, who employs extended breathing techniques.

The improvisations with vocal artist Han Buhrs on "Punch," "The mammal thing" and "Pow wow," and Jodi Gilbert on "Blitzfish" and the song "For Albert Hofmann"—the Swiss scientist who synthesized the psychedelic effects of lysergic acid diethylamideare (LSD)— are the wildest and most inventive ones, using invented languages with humor. Lotz and Kneer, with trumpeter Felicity Provan and lap steel guitarist Joost Buis, create a similar vocal effect on the ironic "Aria" and "Recitative."

A fascinating journey with some of the most unique improvisers on the fertile Dutch scene.

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