The Covid-19 pandemic lockdown left enough time for guitarist Mark Solborg and reeds player Francesco Bigoni to finalize and synthesize recordings of the Danish/Italian/Luxembourgian quintet ON DOG from another era and another world. These recordings were done in 2016 at the beautiful, reverberant Koncertkirken and the clear, generous, main room at The Village Recording in Copenhagen. The outcome is «Dielectric», the third album of this quintet since its inception in 2012.
On Dog features experienced improvisers and bandleaders: Danish-Argentinian Solborg is a versatile improviser and composer who cherishes a personal and idiomatic approach to the guitar; Italian, Copenhagen-based Bigoni pursues sound from all sides: he holds a degree in electrical engineering and is active in the field of electroacoustics and interaction design; Luxembourgian, Berlin-based drummer Marc Lohr reaches to electronic music, DJ sets, and dance performances; reeds player Piero Bittolo Bon is one of the busiest and most in-demand musicians in the Italian jazz and avant-garde scene, and fellow Italian reeds player Beppe Scardino is one of the most sought-after baritone sax players in Italy.
«Dielectric» demonstrates the breadth of compositional strategies of Solborg and Bigoni and the spectrum of improvisational practices that On Dog has developed, naturally, all are highly informed by the dense written material. This album also introduces unconventional use of synthesizers and electronics in addition to the already familiar extended woodwind techniques.
There seems to be a subversive, twisted element in almost every piece. Eerie electronics accompany the singing clarinet of Bigoni and the gentle flute of Bittolo Bon on the opening «Stray Dogs I». The three Italian reeds players enjoy a tough, muscular interplay on «J’accuse, Mancoose», but when Solborg steps in the tone shifts instantly to a chamber, reserved one. The delicate «Nimmersatt» plays beautifully with silence, and only Lohr insists on charging this piece with intense, restless drumming. The playful interplay of the Italian reeds players on «Chebyshev Chihuahua/Stray Dogs II» is veiled by raw electronics and processed human voices.
Solborg’s short, three-part «black Pipes Suite’» shifts the mood to a chamber, intimate one but also radiates a mysterious feeling. «Elliotic’» alternates between a drone of synthesizer-made, chilly noises and a quiet but warm sounds of clarinets played by the three Italians. Solborg’s suggestive, open guitar lines on «The Cat Takes Revenge And Kills Curiosity» contrast the close interplay of three clarinets, but eventually all unite for a moving, melancholic conclusion. The last, title-piece puts again the raw, chaotic electronics in opposition to the ethereal conversation of the clarinet player, with only Lohr insisting on dance patterns to this disruptive interplay.
This mature has acquired an impressive set of interesting voices and rebellious tricks. This dog is on the loose and is as On as ever.
Piero Bittolo Bon (as, bcl, fl, v), Francesco Bigoni (ts, cl), Beppe Scardino (bs, bcl), Mark Solborg (g, elec), Marc Lohr (dr, elec)