DEER XING

DEER
One
SWITZERLAND DESZPOT #003 CD (2012)

DEER is a trio of Hans Koch, Christian Müller and Silber Ingold. All three musicians appear to be aficionados of the bass clarinet, but electronics are also employed, again possibly by all three dudes. Interestingly, Deszpot have also recently released a bass clarinet album by Marc Lardon. I’ll refrain from making the pun about bass clarinet albums being like buses and instead leave you to instead consider the hand-drawn illustration of a deer’s head, possibly mounted, in monotone brushwork style on the cover.

My first listen to this bass clarinet-based drone piece was on my car’s somewhat inadequate stereo so the “…small sound miniatures…” as promised by the press release were completely lost and the whole claustrophobic, intense piece seemed to have all the subtlety and character of a bassy and electronicky brick. I broke off listening after fifteen minutes of frustration, making a mental note to listen to this disc on the decent stereo in the house. In no way should this be seen as reflecting badly upon DEER, as this is another cracking bass saxophone recording like Mr Lardon’s which I’m quite partial to. It simply means I ought to get around to getting a better car stereo.

Armed with the decent stereo, it quickly becomes apparent that there is a lot of detail in this music. There is a sparing use of delay time adjustment, and a gaseous fluttering as an industrial sized filter slowly gapes open.
It is a quiet beginning. It is a simple idea to start small and gradually throw on more and more detail; a process of maximalization that yields satisfying results. This kind of slow encroachment always relaxes me so I’m sold straight off. It might seem easy, but it is harder than you think to play as restrained as this over such a duration. Forty minutes is an optimal duration, I think. It is quite possibly the average time period that experimental musicians like to play for, although I have no facts or statistics whatsoever to back up this assertion. The temptation to open a filter envelope too brusquely or add harmonic overtones to eagerly is ever-present. Check it: the first major, noticeable even (apart from a slow increase in volume) addition happens at sixteen minutes. Sixteen minutes! I hesitate to use the word “change”; One is unchanging. At this point, the drone is identifiable as clarinets for the first time. For the next twenty-four minutes, One develops more swiftly in progressively more violent and unsettling ways. DEER really open the taps around 30 minutes. It really does sound like the musicians are opening up a portal to somewhere. Dynamic, exciting, transporting; its exactly what I want from drone music. A stark contrast to the Marc Lardon bass clarinet disc, which I also love, but for completely different reasons.

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