«There or here and that» captures faithfully the free and eccentric spirit of this international quartet of experienced improvisers – British guitarist Fred Frith, French vocal artist Clara Weil, Turkish cellist Anil Eraslan and Belgian drummer Tom Malmendier, who released this studio recording on his own label, eux sæm. The accumulated experiences of these strong-minded improvisers encompass almost all, from prog-rock to punk, contemporary music, electronic, ambient music and post-rock. But one day at the Studio NAC in Strasbourg in November 2018 proved that these four idiosyncratic musicians can offer a challenging quartet voice and strong group identity.
The six free-improvisations are free-associative in spirit, allowing Frith, Weil, Eraslan and Malmendier to totally immerse themselves in multitudes of sounds, and enrich the sonic palette of each other. The interplay is urgent, sometimes even chaotic, but rich with ironic gestures and musical games. Weil leads the opening «Mais si» with her fast train of acrobatic-operatic and pixie-like wordless utterances, highlighting her gift to tell a detailed and expressive, emotional story without articulating one comprehensible world. Frith, Eraslan and Malmendier add nuanced layers to this evocative story, coloring it with exotic guitar lines and restless pulse. Eraslan’s extended bowing techniques set the searching tone of the more sparse and spacious «Lockdown», relying on the inventive qualities of all four musicians. Frith’s suggestive guitar lines frame the 17-minutes «Someone behind me is also walking», a sensual and fragile soundscape that stresses the immediate affinity of him and Weil before the quartet explores more unpredictable and unchartered sonic terrains.
«Notre sale secret» flows – literally – through quiet and mysterious ripples, emphasizing the delicate and nuanced languages of the four musicians and their ability to sketch a dramatic story with few sonic elements. Weil turns the short title-piece into a dramatic, operatic song, totally possessed by its eccentric, ecstatic atmosphere. The last, 16-minutes of «Etait tout ce qui était tombé» demonstrates how this quartet’s interplay has developed during the recording session and how this democratic, free-improv quartet became a resourceful collective that is stronger than its parts. The music – a multitude of subtle and strange but always tempting sounds flows in its own accord, led by its own uncompromising, inventive power of Weil, Frith, Eraslan and Malmendier.
Anil Eraslan (c, eff), Fred Frith (g), Tom Malmendier (dr), Clara Weil (v)