The Dry Salvages

Another tasty item from the Swiss label for jazz and free improv music, Veto-Records. Today’s entry Dry (VETO-EXCHANGE 017) features our favourite French viola player, Frantz Loriot. We’ve been covering his appearances for several years now, even including the time he first started duetting with saxman Christoph Erb in 2016 on the Sceneries album. That duo plays here, along with their new recruit Yasumune Morishige who they picked up in Japan.

From the evidence of some of these frenzied string-fests, it looks as though Loriot has finally met a madman as enthused as he is about sawing and bowing the instrument half to death. Morishige, who also snaps photographs (I’d imagine his subjects don’t ask him any nosey questions) has been bowing his wooden beast since at least 2001 and put out a couple of self-released items, besides appearing on Improvising Beings and Edition Omega Point, and often plays in twosomes with fellow Japanese gazoons – including Reizen, one of our personal favourites of “purist” blackest-ever minimalismo scrapes. I think Erb – who is of course the founder of this cherishable label – knows he’s met his match when these two stringed-up stick insects are in the room, and for a good part of this 2018 set he relegates himself to providing abstract breathy drones and open-ended gurgles, so that the two maniacs can let fly.

Fave tracks in these parts include ‘Wood’, where one of the stringsters is producing unbearably shrill high notes at a near-lethal rate while the other emits menacing angst-drones of nerve-shredding discordancy; ‘Fields’, which is a far-too-short trip into outer space and back via a skyrocket butterfly device; ‘Ice’, where all three players stand still for long enough to deliberate (in sound) on the meaning of death by freezing, and conclude it’s probably a good idea; and ‘Blood’, where the keynote atmosphere is an intangible of precious proportions, and the only way to capture it is through intense microtones which hang in the air like hot needles. You might prefer the stark desolation of ‘Wind’, an attempt to relive the dust bowl years of the 1930s in Kansas, or perhaps ‘Planet’ which deliberately throws out alien tones and sounds resembling radio signals, in a half-conscious tribute to the Sun Ra Arkestra.

As usual, packaged in chipboard parcel with crisp screenprinted art, which proposes a kind of Mexican playing-card motif involving stylised skulls and a fanged snake. An all-round winner of “difficult” and strange improvised noise. Oh, I just realised all the tune titles could be preceded by the word “dry”…or used in a game of word association. What could be better? P.S. our Japanese cello hero also once played bass in Fushitsusha. He is now my favourite new thing in the world. From 12th November 2019.

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