«Elements» is a first-time, free-improvised meeting of Austrian, classically-trained pianist Elisabeth Harnik, known from the DEK trio with fellow-Austrian drummer Didi Kern and Chicagoan Ken Vandermark, and Australian, alto sax player Tim O’Dwyer, once a student of Evan Parker and now an improviser exploring Soundpainting and collective composing that is inspired by the writing of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, and Scottish drummer Darren Moore, who co-runs the experimental label Lao Ban and collaborated before with Japanese sax hero Akira Sakata and the European trio of Achim Kaufmann, Frank Gratkowski and Wilbert de Joode. Both O’Dwyer and Moore based in Singapore.
«Elements» was recorded at Lasalle College of the Arts (where O’Dwyer and Moore teach) in Singapore in January 2020. The title of the album reflects this trio’s aim to search for the elemental qualities of sound as well as its quest to create an elusive sonic ambiguity that blurs the common distinctions between the aural spectrums of the piano, sax, and drums, in a manner that would transcend their traditional domains.
The opening, title-piece sets the restless, inquisitive spirit of this meeting. It shifts suddenly from the urgent and stormy, individual gestures of Harnik, O’Dwyer and Moore to minimalist, sparse and collective ones that seek to color the ambiguous sounds with enigmatic aroma. The extended breathing and percussive techniques with the playing inside the piano are employed to suggest a bewildering sonic entity and to deepen the modes of search and discovery, slowly gravitating into an ecstatic climax. «Compounds» is even more inventive, as Harnik, O’Dwyer and Moore sketch layered and carefully nuanced, unpredictable sounds, letting these provocative sounds find their inner logic and dynamics, before uniting into a mysterious, lyrical and poetic texture. The last piece «Matter» takes this elusive, ambiguous approach a step further, and offers, delicate and minimalist texture that articulate only the almost transparent contours of this arresting piece, patiently intensifying and expanding the quiet interplay until it returns full circle to the nervous, stormy opening, but in a richer, tighter mode of a unit that knows how to celebrate the music of the moment.
Elisabeth Harnik (p), Tim O’Dwyer (as), Darren Moore (dr)