The Music of Weber, Callahan, Goretzki and Zimmerlin
This release by Edition Wandelweiser Records collects recent compositions by Katharina Weber, Jack Callahan, Alex Goretzki, and Alfred Zimmerlin, performed by Christian Buck on guitar and Christian Wolfarth on percussion. It opens with Callahan’s ‘New Piece’, beginning with quiet feedback and low rumble before moving on to evenly spaced chords, cymbals, and soft beats. There’s an ambiguity or uncertainty to these sounds, or to my hearing of them, in terms of their harmony and timbre — I feel like I can locate the general area but not the precise point of their sounding. I don’t know if this activates some connection with the wider world and its infinite subtleties and shades, but I find it very enjoyable to listen to. The steady pace gives plenty of space to these unpinpointable events.
Weber’s ‘Flüchtige Weile’ is intricate and artfully arranged, but to my ears doesn’t seem to get under the skin of its own sounds. There’s a lot of toing and froing between the two players, much discussion but rare agreement. The spiky stabs and bluesy slide playing from Buck form a nice contrast, as do the billowing mallet cymbal and bouncing hard snare from Wolfarth, but how do they relate to one another? Zimmerlin’s ‘Spaziergang in der Abenddämmerung (C.D.F.)’ features a similar kind of back-and-forth, lacking the dynamic bite of Weber’s piece but following a similar structure. The instruments flit from shape to shape without much chance to enjoy any of them.
Goretzki brings more cohesion in final piece ‘Squall Line Territories’. Here the two Christians seem united in presenting an effect or impression, rather than playing off one another. The piece is powerfully squall-like in its dense, contained force, created through dramatic rhythms and rolls, flashing lightning chords, and rumbling thunder, but also through quietly insistent ostinatos and languid lulls. Goretzki stays with each idea for a while, allowing them to impress their weather on the senses — there’s a particularly nice bit about halfway through featuring a quiet, repeated broken chord from Buck, and similarly subdued mallet cymbal rolls from Wolfarth. Different ears may be drawn to different pieces on this release, but they are all impeccably played, and continue the ever-diversifying explorations of Edition Wandelweiser.