Bad time. Good Sounds. «The DAMN!» Double-disc sampler of female musicians-composer-improvisers-sound artists (with some male comrades) was initiated by the Austrian label chmafu nocords and the Austrian magazine freiStil as a response to the victory of the proto-fascist Black-Blue in Austria. These singular, creative and forward-thinking musicians suggest a feminist antidote to the xenophobic, chauvinistic and misogynist policy of the current Austrian government and its sexual objectification of the feminine body and its contempt of art. You can also take it as a timely call to the music industry that continues to degrade left-off-center female musicians. Art of any form and kind is at its best when it introduces subversive ideas and challenges power structures.
Most of the pieces in this sampler were not released before, some were recorded live and in studio, though there is not enough information about the location and the timing of the recording of each piece. All the musicians are Europeans or reside in Europe, except New York-based cellist Okkyung Lee. All offer a spectrum of today’s most adventurous and open-minded music, encompassing experiments in electronics, free improvisations, free jazz and baroque and contemporary music.
The first disc highlights compositions and improvisations with strong and provocative electronics elements, edited eleverly as narrative that begins with a disturbing soundscape-story by Amsterdam-based Anne La Berge; continues with the dark improvisation of Swiss Charlotte Hug and moves to the already released track from the debut album of the Redox trio (on Creative Sources) – Austrian vocalist Annette Giesriegl and pianist Katharina Klement with Croatian percussionist Kaja Farszky. The Austrian duo Demi Broxa – vocal artist Agnes Hvizdalek and electronics player Jakob Schneidwind – injects a lighter vein, merging the experimental vocal techniques of Hvizdalek with hypnotic, repetitive techno beats of Schneidwind, followed by a brief, enigmatic piece for diapason and electronics by fellow-Austrian Lissie Rettenwander. The Austrian duo FS:eins of alto sax player Viola Falb and electronics player Bernd Satzinger changes the course to a free-improvisation that confronts the sax with raw, industrial sounds. Swiss baroque violinist Maya Homburger leads a quartet of double bass player-partner Barry Guy, and fellow Swiss, tenor sax player Jürg Wickihalder and drummer Lucas Niggli in a truly majestic cover of Steve Lacy’s «Art». Homburger concludes the first disc with a most beautiful solo version of J.S. Bach «Adagio», from the Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001.
The second disc focuses on free-improvised pieces, informed by free jazz. The Swedish duo of baritone sax player Anna Högberg and double bass player Elsa Bergman, who plays in Högberg Attack, begin with a dark and melancholic piece. German violinist Gunda Gottschalk and accordionist Ute Völker continues with their impressive interpretation of an exotic Mongolian folk melody, followed by another released piece of the Octet of Slovenian, Amsterdam-based pianist Kaja Draksler (on Clean Feed), that bridges contemporary music with modern jazz. Austrian drummer Katharina Ernst offers a mysterious and highly resonating drone created by using only the prepared tamtam and German French horn player deepens this enigmatic vein with her extended breathing techniques, whispering, whining and shouting into her horn. The yet-to-recorded trio of Danish tenor sax player Lotte Anker, Korean, New york-based cellist Okkyung Lee and German drummer Paul Lovens adds a playful and imaginative free-improvisation that moves instantly between lyrical, chamber jazz to a heated and powerful interplay. Lee ends this inspiring collection with a hypnotic-meditation soundscape of computer generated sounds.
Anne La Berge (fl, narration, elec), Charlotte Hug (v, viola, elec), Redox (Annette Giesriegl, v, elec, Katharina Klement, p, Kaja Farszky, marimba, perc), Demi Broxa (Agnes Hvizdalek, v, Jakob Schneidwind, elec), Lissie Rettenwander (diapason, wood box, elec), FS:eins (Viola Falb, as, Bernd Satzinger, elec), Jürg Wickihalder (ts), Barry Guy (b), Lucas Niggli (dr), Maya Homburger (baroque vio), Anna Högberg (bs), Elsa Bergman (b), Gunda Gottschalk (vio), Ute Völker (acc), Kaja Draksler Octet (Kaja Draksler, cond, Ab Baars, ts, Ada Rave, cl, George Dumitriu, vio, Onno Govaert, dr, Björk Níelsdóttir, v, Laura Polence, v, Lennart Heyndels, b), Katharina Ernst (prep tamtam); Elene Kakaliagou (frh), Lotte Anker (ts), Okkyung Lee (c, computer generated sounds); Paul Lovens (dr)