BURKHARD BEINS/JOHN BISSET: Chapel/Kapell - REVIEWS
Improvised music now has enough history in opposition that its practitioners aren't afraid to show their more "conventional" side. Conventional is in quotes for a reason, however, for many not familiar with the scene will find nothing commonplace in the sounds of bowed and scraped metal and minute guitar string plucks that make up most of the almost 38 minutes of this disc.
Nevertheless, British guitarist John Bisset shows a softer, more malleable side throughout than many doctrinaire EuroImprovisers by frequently introducing entire string melodies and phrases in his work. Not only that, but in an equally uncharacteristic show of sentimentality, Bisset made a point of recording this disc in Wietze-Wieckenberg, the birth town of his collaborator, German percussionist Burkhard Beins. Second in a series of "home" recordings done by Bisset and another musician, the two took advantage of the acoustics of the town's 17th century Stechinelli-Kappelle as a venue.
True to the down home feeling of the project, both men, who in the past have experimented with tape and multi-media projects, stuck to the objects at hand. So while the listener can hear passages that sound as if marbles are being rolled on the drum heads or ecclesiastical bells are being sounded, the effects have been created by the instruments the two brought along. Bellicose drumming and other effects that characterizes some German improv is far removed from this setting.
Co-founders of the 2-13 Club, which presents improv festivals in Berlin and London, the two men have been playing partners since 1995. Bisset is best-known as leader of the London Electric Guitar Orchestra, which explores the textures available from the six-string and four-string models, while Beins has created music for films, theatre projects and often works with amplified drums and other electroacoustic devices.
Taking advantage of the guitarist's stated interest in random structures for improvisation, Chapel/Kapell can be heard as a little suite for two instruments, related to others that may have been performed in earlier centuries in the chapel using lutes, spinets and the like.
With the techniques available to committed improvisers, the cycle moves through sections of light romanticism and vigorous intensity, but true to its bucolic setting never indulging in the excesses of tumult or, alternately, extreme silences.
All in all it's a disc worth exploring for those seeking the gentle side of improv.
- Ken Waxman, Jazzweekly -
This is a beautiful duo set by British guitarist John Bisset and German
drummer Burkhard Beins, released on Bisset's label 2:13 Music.
Recorded in an old chapel in Wietze-Wieckenberg (Germany), this short set
(37 minutes) showcases two complementary improvisers. Chapel/Kapell is
stronger than the guitarist's previous duo release with Rhodri Davies,
Malthouse/Odyn Galch (1999). Here the sound palette is wider, the playing
more captivating. Bisset often steps back to leave Beins' percussive
doodlings more room. The drummer's approach is reminiscent of Roger
Turner (lots of scrap metal) but also of Raymond Strid (the abundant use
of bowed cymbals). Bisset plays delicate but jagged guitar lines,
alternating between carefully chosen notes and wild runs on his prepared
instrument -- all acoustic. The two of them fill the room with ethereal
music that sure is abstract and can even sound cerebral if one listens
distractedly. But attentive listening reveals all the beauty hidden in an
improv like "Glocks/Prozession". Except for the aforementioned piece, 12
minutes long, tracks are short: Bisset aims only at the best moments of
the session. Chapel/Kapell contains nice surprises and is another proof
of the guitarist's adaptability. Just go ahead and try to figure out what is
percussion and what is guitar on "Thäne" and "Wind". Recommended.
- François Couture, All Music Guide -