Mysterious Ways

emibatett

emißatett
qui-pro-quo-dis
GERMANY SCHRAUM 19 CD (2015)

Emißattet is a ‘trio’ of five improvisors from Cologne who perform in and around the ‘compositions’ of cellist Elisabeth Fügemann, though these are not ‘compositions’ as one might imagine: a division of labour to achieve a distinct musical goal. No, their discourse consists of face offs and skirmishes along the road between pained, metallic droning and all-at-once shard warfare – a tension augmented by the arrival of piano and percussion (in this newly expanded lineup) – though the prevailing democracy at least ensures that each of the players occupies their own sovereign territory: great, grey, rain-soaked spaces filled with tortured tree-like forms and mutated fauna; landscapes as rich in mystery as ennui.

Corresponding with this sense of tethered exchange is the erosion of distinction between free improvisation and ‘modern’ orchestration: lacking any melodic anchor points, one might easily mistake this for random ‘bits & bobs’ affair, were it not for the fact that much of the engagement is carefully choreographed: a matching note-for-note passage for piano and trombone in ‘Kugul’ being one obvious indicator that ‘a greater hand’ authors these seemingly random events. Then there’s the ‘hidden symmetry’ of transitions between trio and quintet formations, the ‘give-and-take’ the Latinised title almost alludes to, but which is trumped by Google’s telling translation of ‘For The Gods’. Vanquishing potential monotony, this latent theology is manifest in the episodes of expansion and condensation that govern Emißattet’s fields of malleable tonality, imbuing their music with a sense of intrigue that could lead to devotion.

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