Austrian drummer Didi Kern is a natural, highly versatile, and one of the busiest musicians in the Viennese scene. He has played drums since childhood, a member of the local art-rock bands like Bulbul, Fuckhead, and Broken.Heart.Collector, but he also feels at home with free jazz musicians and within free improvised settings. He recorded with such heavyweights as Mats Gustafsson («Marvel Motor», Rock Is Hell, 2017), and Ken Vandermark with the DEK trio (with fellow-Austrian pianist Elisabeth Harnik) and the Entr’acte ensemble, and performed with Peter Brötzmann.
Kern’s solo album «Elliptical Overtone Study & Field Recordings», released as limited-edition of 105 12’’ vinyl (with download option), and recorded between 2004 and 2019 in Seewalchen, Schrattenberg, Mexico City, New Orleans, New York, and Vienna, provides a close insight into what goes on in the mind of an artist who lives, breaths and feels in rhythmic patterns. The 19 pieces, some are miniatures of few seconds long, distill his resourceful energetic approach, always colored with his sharp sense of humor and field recordings of unconventional incidents.
This elliptical journey begins and ends at his grandfather’s cracking stairs (the miniatures «Stiang Aufi» and «Stiang Owe»), and visits a Mexican market, sample a snoring fellow-traveler, documenting a lamenting woman in the New York subway with a religious-apocalyptic vision, a bee that passes by, and a dubious conductor commenting on a trip. Every place, event, and sound has its own, inner rhythmic logic and Kern abstracts, stretches, manipulates, and disciplines these miniature sonic events into suggestive and eccentric rhythmic modules. These brief pieces sharpen our sensitivity to the infinite resonant layers of any rhythm, its elastic pulse, shifting time, and nuanced texture.
But «Elliptical Overtone Study & Field Recordings» offers more than Kern’s breadth of sonic references and his wild imagination. The longest pieces highlight his imaginative musical personality. «Elliptical Overtone Study» orchestrates overtones produced from gongs and Tibetan bowls into a meditative soundscape. «Raindance» feels like a few urgent but colliding, ritualist dances, all are quite playful. «Tubesound Ensemble» flirts with an electronic groove and «Warum» deconstructs the repetitive recitation of the German word warum (why) and its equivalent words in English and French into an existential, sonic treaty. The apocalyptic trip in the New York subway is arranged as a cinematic, horrific soundscape, but it is followed by a few short, miniatures that relieve tension with inventive, noisy kind of humor.
Didi Kern (dr, perc, field rec), Philipp Quehenberger (noises), Michael Strohmann (noises), Rich Panciera (noises)