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På skive


«pain is a form of violence prone to happiness»

pain is a form of violence prone to happiness (a phrase in Marguerite Duras’ book Writing) is the sophomore album of the international quartet Our Hearts As Thieves led by American pianist-poet Eliot Cardinaux, German reeds player Jonas Engel, Danish double bass player Asger Thomsen and Dutch percussionist Etienne Nillesen, following the self-titled album from 2018. Like the first album, the new one was recorded live in Cologne at the Loft Club in January 2020, a short time before the Covid-19 pandemic.

As on the first album of the quartet, Cardinaux’s quiet vocal delivery and his poetic images act as the narrative anchor for Our Hearts As Thieves’ patient and slow-cooking improvisations, and subtle sonic searches, solidified by an array of extended techniques of all four musicians. This careful yet often rough and brutal approach of the quartet, corresponding with the album title and pieces like «Death & Analysis», charges Cardinaux’s poems with suggestive and mysterious emotional power and allows the cryptic poetic images to linger on. Cardinaux’s melodic ideas often balance this uncompromising approach. The last, third piece «Often you strode past the mulberry», uses Cardinaux’s poem that is based on the first poem in Paul Celan’s book Breathturn (and Celan’s poetry serves as a life-long inspiration for Cardinaux). Cardinaux’s poems on this album were published in his new book On the Long Blue Night (Dos Madres, 2023). The cover artwork by photographer Monica Jane Frisell adds to the poetic aura of this album.

Engel and Thomsen have been playing together not only in Our Hearts As Thieves. Thomsen hosted Engel in his album Autolysis (The Bodily Press, 2020). Kölschner is the debut live album of this duo, recorded live in Cologne in 2022—Thomsen did the mixing, mastering and cover artwork. The three free improvised pieces offer free-form stream-of-consciousness dynamics, intensified by a strong and uncompromising focus to extend the acoustic sonic palettes of Engel’s reeds instruments and Thomsen’s double bass, with preperations and personal, inventive techniques,  into otherworldly sonic territories, sometimes even flirting with abstract noise. Kölschner highlights the deep listening method of Engel and Thomsen and the thoughtful way that they become one sonic entity, fragile, mysterious and captivating.

Eyal Hareuveni

Eliot Cardinaux (piano, poetry, voice), Jonas Engel (alto saxophone, clarinet, modified p-trumpet), Asger Thomsen (double bass, objects), Etienne Nillesen (extended snare drum)