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På skive


«Brittle Feebling»

«Brittle Feebling» is described by its creators, an uncompromising California, Bay Area-based quartet of rather busy free-improvisers – oboist and English horn player Kyle Bruckmann, trumpeter Tom Djll, floor bass drum player Jacob Felix Heule and koto player Kanoko Nishi-Smith, as «a most quixotic endeavor». And, indeed, the title of the debut album of this ad-hoc, collective quartet intensifies this description. This experimental quartet was documented in its first-ever meeting in June 2018 in Berkeley, California, but Bruckmann, Felix Heule (who also recorded, mixed and mastered «Brittle Feebling») and Nishi-Smith already recorded before (as the quartet Addleds, with double bass player Toby Dryer, «Mottle», Wide Ear Records, 2013).

An impressive array of extended breathing, bowing and percussive techniques, healthy curiosity as well as a strong sense of deep listening are a given in this acoustic, delicate yet abrasive sonic meeting. The urgent and dense atmosphere leaves aside any attempt to structure a clear narrative or explore melodic veins but rarely surrender to fleeting, odd rhythmic patterns. This meeting is focused on fricative rasp and withheld breath, and always aims at expanding its timbral palette and exposing new sonorities, but also highlighting an intimate and subtle conversational interplay. Often, the unsettling breaths blend and overlap with the discomforting rubbing of the bass drum and the brutal plucking of the koto strings, and suggest an arresting sonic ambiguity that distances these classic instruments completely out of their comfort zones and their sonic legacies.

This quartet finds «Brittle Feebling» «terribly lovely». An excellent description.

Eyal Hareuveni

Kyle Bruckmann (oboe, English horn), Tom Djll (tp), Jacob Felix Heule (floor tom), Kanoko Nishi-Smith (koto)

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