EARR Plays A Snare Is A Bell
Sub Rosa SRV-339
Stunning new piece from percussionist/vocalist/composer Eric Thielemans, here working with the EARR ensemble: I still treasure the solo percussion/vocal performance that Thielemans gave a few years back in Athens where he held an entire room mesmerised across a series of minimal drum skin soundings and subtle vocal interactions, coaxing psychedelic overtones from his deconstructed drum kit while he sang softly just beneath them. The effect was as magical and transportive as the most devotional minimalism and outside of Keiji Haino’s spell-binding hurdy-gurdy/vocal recordings has little parallel in contemporary avant thought. EARR Plays A Snare Is A Bell pushes his remit further still, opening out his concept of occupying and super-charging the acoustic properties of the performance space with nothing but a snare and vocals by inviting an ensemble of friends and musicians to respond to his concepts in whatever form they inspired. Here he recruits two vocalists, a double bassist, a pianist and keyboardist, a trombonist and a guitarist and the results go far beyond any clichéd notion of minimalism or lower case exposition. Indeed, the most startling thing about the ensemble response is just how liberated and aesthetically far-ranging it is. Here we have pieces of sumptuous brass and strings that sound like nothing less than Maher Shalal Hash Baz plays The Art Ensemble’s Les Stances A Sophie, strange chamber music instants that sound like odd Chie Mukai/Bill Wells duets, a profoundly moving setting of a Shakespeare sonnet for piano and vocals that is as heartbreaking as anything by Richard Youngs or Alasdair Roberts, creeping metal drone-eroticism that could almost be Neubauten, oddly affecting vocal folk polyphonies, settings from Purcell and Bach that posit a series of contemporary readings that are focused on the sonic aspect of the music as much as the actual notation... Indeed, this is the most liberated take on free music I have encountered in an age, factoring in all sorts of unlikely influences and contagions while responding to Thielemans’ exuberant opening up of the possibilities of sound and communal expression when given a single singing tone and a reverberant room to react to. More formally radical than any recent ‘improv’ side, this stunning LP is one of the releases of the year and sets Thielemans’ music and concept up as a profound catalyst for expression of all sorts, from mournful avant classical drones through beautiful folk laments, odd fire music refrains and radical metallic drone. A singular release, haven’t heard anything remotely like it, very highly recommended!