Last noted the excellent duo Rant – Merle Bennett and Torsten Papenheim – with their 2011 album land, and enjoyed their unusual and highly energetic means of collaborating together with guitar and drums. Even with the occasional misfire it’s clear this duo have found a rich seam of experimentation that allows much in the way of fecund production. Their commitment to innovation is not about aping styles or genres, so there’s none of these tiresome lists of old records which they claim to “dig”. Instead they work hard on Margo Flux (SCHRAUM 20) to find new ways of expressing themselves, using a range of percussive and stringed instruments, including guitars, piano, and zither, and clearly thinking hard about their respective approaches, even before the microphones are turned on. Almost every track is different, and it’s almost impossible to classify or pigeon-hole the music…now acoustic, now amplified, abstract noise for five minutes followed by something resembling a version of slowed-down fusion jazz-rock that’s been taken apart like Meccano pieces and reassembled in the wrong order. Their working method this time around was apparently “a much more open and fragmentary process”, and involved realising the music as they were recording it. A dense and satisfying series of statements has resulted, packed with musical information.
One of the steps on the way towards Margo Flux was another project called Uthlande, commissioned by the Garagenoper Festival in Berlin, and comprising a much more ambitious piece of stagecraft; Rant used contact mics, dictaphones and samplers as well as their usual guitar and drums set-up, and the finished product appears to be an impressive sound-and-visual installation type thing, judging by available excerpts on Vimeo. The lessons learned from Uthlande have passed into Margo Flux, and we’re all the richer for it. From 23rd October 2015.