American, Berlin-based bassist, acoustic and electroacoustic composer, improviser, and multi-instrumentalist Nick Dunston asks on his third album as a bandleader, Skultura, when is a work of art finished? Dunston here is not only the composer, musician and improviser, who adds prepared banjo, sampler, tape and vocals to his bass, but he is also the producer who keeps shaping his compositions during post-production with Swedish co-producer (and fellow bassist) Petter Eldh. He is accompanied by the Berkin-based Turkish vocal artist Ayşe Cansu Tanrıkulu, who also plays electronics, Brazilian drummer Mariá Portugal, American synth player Liz Kosack and Russian reeds player Eldar Tsalikov. This group of expats recorded the album in two sessions in Berlin and in Cologne in August and November 2022.
American Trombonist Jacob Garchik, who contributed liner notes, compares the creative process of Skultura to the seminal ones of Miles Davis. Dunston did not finish it with the last set, but continued to refine it until he was satisfied. Art of work is not only about when inspiration strikes or when a finger plucks a string. Sometimes it needs editing, even a drastic reworking and its end bears little resemblance to the beginning of it. «A work is made of continuous waves of inspiration and creation, strata of improvisations made permanent, each layer related to the one below, or not. Forget the ‘post’ in post-production. It’s all production», concludes Garchik.
The dense arrangements and meticulous layers of sound-manipulation techniques and post-production add an unpredictable, enigmatic sensibility to the six pieces Skultura. Familiar dimensions of organic flow, rhythmic patterns, or playfulness and form are abandoned for manipulated and sculpted reimaginations of the live playing in order to create surprising, often dadaist and otherworldly sonic collisions and sounds and labyrinthian structures that can collapse in on themselves at any moment. But Dunston, together with Eldh, managed to create music that is seductive and weird at the same time, untimely but corresponds with folk traditions, restless but full of clever nuances and has its own distinct sense of rhythm. Perhaps, only a group of expats who live in cosmopolitan Berlin and had to determine – and produce and re-produce – their own terms of engagement with this city, can create music that radiates a strong sense of trust and vulnerability.
Nick Dunston (double bass, prepared banjo, sampler, tape, vocals), Ayşe Cansu Tanrıkulu (vocals, effects, electronics), Liz Kosack (synthesizer, vocals), Eldar Tsalikov (alto saxophone, Bb clarinet, vocals), Mariá Portugal (drums), Petter Eldh (Akai MPC)