Breakfast Conversation

Breakfast With Cardew

Here is an intriguing piece of work featuring modular synth, although in this case not alone; there are other sound sources – a prepared snare drum, feedback speakers, string boxes, effects and objects. Regrettably the type and nature of modular synth is not elicited – although it appears to be a eurorack set-up judging from the photo on the press release – neither what kind of preparations are on the snare, which would have been interesting to know. Turning to the accompanying press release, it becomes evident that Breakfast With Cardew is in fact evidence of one musician grappling with parts of the score of Cornelius Cardew’s well known graphic score, Treatise, created during the period 1963-67. The musician in question here – BRGS as he likes to be known – is a gentleman by the name of Jaka Berger, who is described in the press release rather confidently as “…one of the most active, creative and versatile drummers, composers and improvisers on Slovenian music scene in the last fifteen years.” I’m in no position to argue, however, so let’s take a look at what’s on offer.

The black and white photograph included in the xeroxed press release presumably shows the set-up used by Berger. The snare drum is copiously mic’ed up with expensive-looking microphones while a pair of what look like vibration speakers sit on the drum skin. The cased eurorack modular set-up is arranged nearby, next to a small mixer and laptop. A handful of interesting-looking effect pedals are visible on the floor, but the quality of the xerox is so poor that I can only identify the shell of one as possibly being made by Boss – it’s very light in colour, so perhaps one of their digital delay units – but I couldn’t hope to identify any of them from this image with any certainty. There is also no detailed information about Berger’s equipment set-up (which, as I say, looks very intriguing despite the poor quality of the photograph), neither about the impetus or reasoning behind Berger’s choice of material. There’s no text information on the cd packaging itself beyond the usual production credits and so forth, and the press release reads more like a funding application or an advertisement for Berger’s teaching services.

That being said, the music on Breakfast With Cardew is compelling. Particularly the fifth track “Conversation between the lines (67 47 35)” with its insistent bubbles and scrapes. I like the ways Berger interacts with his equipment; it’s almost a living thing that the musician works lightly in partnership with, suggesting little ideas here and there. Software processing seems largely in evidence; on “Transitions 128 39 155)” there is a lot of memory buffer manipulation going on in real-time (or so it seems to me) that could be the evil deeds of one of those new-fangled DSP-processing FX pedals which seem so popular with adventurous musicians these days – I’m thinking of the Red Panda Particle as an example, or anything recently released by Chase-Bliss – but this could equally be software; either way it results in a really pleasing emulsion of repeated material, eroded in interesting ways. “Endless Loop Of Spotless Mind (42 43 44)” is a change of pace with slow blooms of animated accordian-like tones moving in and out of slowly rotating low-pass filters; their capacitors clogged with the fertile loam of a windswept field in winter, the occasional jackdaw flopping down from leafless branches of a withered tree.

Zvocni Prepihi is a well-stocked imprint of which I had not heard of before, but there seems to be some choice product at their Bandcamp page – not to mention a pretty rad visual aesthetic – often involving BRGS alongside other notable individuals from the free improv scene in Slovenia. Top work; I’ll be looking into their back catalogue forthwith.