Plasmic is the Austrian free improvising quartet featuring Viennese vocal artist Agnes Heginger, Graz-based pianist Elisabeth Harnik, known for her collaborations with Chicagoan sax heroes Ken Vandermark and Dave Rempis and drummer Michael Zerang, and Ulrichsberg-based cellist Uli Winter and drummer Fredi Pröll. Live at Porgy & Bess is the third album of Plasmic and like the previous albums of the quartet documents a live performance of the quartet, this time at the Viennese jazz club in May 2021.
British pianist Veryan Weston, who has worked in a similar ensemble with vocal artist Phil Minton, praises Plasmic in his short liner notes for helping «to turn our world upside down». Weston enjoys the complete democratic and highly inventive dynamics of this quartet, which can shapeshift in an instant from the classical chamber to the orchestral, as well as the four musicians’ ability to listen deeply to each other, search and reflect each other’s ideas and make music.
And Weston is right. Heginger is possessed by her hyperactive, wordless stream of thoughts, chanting mysterious spells and occasionally adopting playful jazz vocalizations; Harnik is all over the piano and often employs the piano as a string and percussive instrument; Winter acts as a bass player who keeps a loose pulse and Pröll colors the restless commotion with imaginative percussive touches, and all work perfectly together. The totally intuitive music of Plassmic flows in its own strange and often dadaist way, and tells beautiful, dramatic and ecstatic stories in unpredictable and captivating voices and sounds.
On Vrtinci minljivosti / Vortices of Impermanence, Harnik teams with Slovenian violinist-violist-vocalist-percussionist Ana Kravanja, known for her ongoing collaboration with fellow Slovenian multi-instrumentalist Samo Kutin, including in the trio Širom. Kravanja initiated the recording session that took place at Cankarjev dom Vrhnika in Slovenia in October 2022.
The atmosphere is intimate and patient, and most of the time reverent and meditative, veiled in poetic, fragile mystery as the opening pieces «Zavito v skrivnost» and «Okostja krhkosti / Skeletons of fragility» are titled. Both Kravanja and Harnik employ unconventional, extended techniques such as preparations of the piano strings, bowing techniques, or playing with objects and ringing stones (check the playful and chaotic, percussive games of «Prebivalci z druge strani / Dwellers of the other side» and «Sledi puščavnika / Hermit footsteps»). Kravanja and Harnik play in an organic and innocent manner, focusing on expanding their imaginative vocabularies and discovering spontaneously more challenging sonic terrains.
Agnes Heginger (v), Elisabeth Harnik (p, objects, ringing stones), Uli Winter (c), Fredi Pröll (dr), Ana Kravanja (vio, viola, v, frame dr, objects)