POLWECHSEL & JOHN TILBURY: Field - REVIEWS


Polwechsel want to have their cake and eat it too. On the one hand, they're clearly a highbrow, mittel-European 'project', on a mission to infuse reductionist trends in improvised music with a nose-to-the-noise-grinder extended techniques of Helmut Lachenmann. Their albums only recently conceded to the frippery of actually having titles, and their sleevenotes feature cerebral essays, painstakingly positioning the group in the New Music landscape. On the other hand, like AMM, they make records that can be listened to with pleasure by people who can't tell Alvin Lucier from Alvin Curran, and who think Scelsi plays at Stamford Bridge in blue strip.
When Werner Dafeldecker (bass) and Michael Moser (cello) founded Polwechsel in Vienna in 1993, the group included guitarist Burkhard Stangl and trombonist Radu Malfatti, who was on a journey from hard-blowing rattle-rouser in Chris McGregor's Brotherhood Of Breath to ultra-austere Pope of reductionism. Dafeldecker and Moser devised the compositions (graphic scores, verbal instructions, stop-watch timings) for the first album (title: 1), and for all it's worthiness, the music was kind of fun. The phrasing was crisp and every note felt necessary. However much Polwechsel cloaked themselves in knotted-brow solemnity, there was a bounce and a brio in the actual playing that pulled you in.
In 1997 Malfatti was replaced by John Butcher, who stayed for ten years. Field, Polwechsel's sixth release and recorded in 2007, represents his final contribution. Stangl is gone, as are all the computers. This is an all-acoustic sextet, with two percussionists, Burkhard Beins and Martin Brandlmayr, and a guest soloist, pianist John Tilbury. Tilbury's contribution is outstanding - if the whole record glows, it's down to him - but he's also a neat choice in terms of historical influences, as he is both a leading interpreter of Morton Feldman's pieces and an improvising member of AMM.
The only Polwechsel album to be wholly improvised was 2002's Wrapped Islands, a collaboration with Christian Fennesz, and this time out there are just two tracks, both composed: "Place/Replace/Represent" by Moser, and "Field" by Dafeldecker. Now, Butcher has on occasion been called a 'scientific' player for his chilly, rigorous approach, but his low register, fur-clad purring on this openening track is downright erotic. There's enough sensuous bowing going on for a viol consort: not only the heavy breathing and moaning of lightly bowed bass and cello, but yet more bows stroking cymblas and rubbing drumskins. It's a pavane of frottage, and Tilbury picks his way through with aplomb - a dash of virtuoso piano pedal technique here, a rainbow of under-the-lid bottleneck glissando there. A distant recording of piano chords is piped into a second piano, serving to highlight the tactility of the live playing.
The title track is built from more schematic blocks. Individual voices are less clear - instead there's an extraordinary group noise, as if sheltering from heavy rain inside a working wind mill. The group's compositional approach to Improv means they can turn on a sixpence - Polwechsel means pole-switching - and several times a sudden plunge into silence serves to expose some fresh subtlety from Tilbury's piano. With it's switches from ensemble textures to sparse soloing, "Field" is a kind of piano concerto. Tilbury takes a toolkit inside the instrument and explores the echoing caverns there, as if shining a torch up on the walls and showing us precious stones. Behind the austere, monochrome sleeve photo, which appears to show mirrors in the mud, this is an album of warmth, sensuality and inspiring attention to detail. Polwechsel handle sound gently, as if it were a baby.
Reductionism as a musical process, a way of working things out, has been around now for a decade and a half. It's effects can still bewilder: some concerts are inaudible from further than three rows back, though an eventually released recording shows plenty of activity. Certain composers specialise in acres of silence, and audiences learn that one performer's silence is for some reason more engaging than another's, as if there's a difference between composed silence (Cage) and improvised silence (Seymour Wright). Then there are instrumentalists doing their damnedest to sound like computers, and wind players who avoid all notes as if they just got banned by papal encyclical. Some listeners may feel that reductionism has also reduced the musicianship, and that some musicians are stuck in a holding pattern dictated by current fashion, afraid to let themselves go in a climate hostile to expression.
In this context Polwechsel sound an encouraging note. An old criticism of Improv was too much dead wood: you wait too long for a good bit, or musicians briefly enter exquisite territory only to rush off too quickly. Through rigorous focus and composition, Polwechsel aim to maintain that territory and map it thoroughly. Reductionism may have resulted in less high-energy, physical playing, but there's a new valuing of delicacy and detail.
Improvisors are aware of the danger of going stale, and the need to constantly renew. The worst charge you can level at improvisors is that they're simply repeating themselves - and yet, in order to find their own voice, they have to establish a recognisable style. Polwechsel tackle the repetition problem on two fronts: first, by steadily refining theri project and using timbral contrast more and more as a means of structuring lengthy pieces. Secondly, by inviting guest musicians. Timbre and Tilbury - the result is a particulary warm, inviting record. The sheer sensuality of Polwechsel's ensemble playing, and the care they take in recording it, are reasons for celebration. And maybe this sensuality is in the air just now. A few years ago I used to spend much concert time listening to the slightly opaque, but definitely very hygienic, workings of computer software. These days I'm enjoying the sound of Lee Patterson setting fire, live on stage, to tangerine pips and hazelnuts. Sexy, no?
Clive Bell, The Wire -

For this session, materialized in 2007, Polwechsel comprised two percussionists (Burkhard Beins, Martin Brandlmayr), a saxophonist (John Butcher), strings (Werner Dafeldecker on double bass, Michael Moser on cello) and the hypothetically pivotal figure of John Tilbury, who results instead entirely incorporated in the collective's sound taken as a whole; his personal incidence is, at times, far from conspicuous if ever valuable.
Immediately after the elapsing of the initial seconds of Michael Moser's 'Place / Replace / Represent', the first in a brace of extensive pieces, we illusorily believe ourselves to be the ultimate addressees of an essential acoustic report. The music, brilliantly recorded by Martin Leitner and Wolfgang Musil, is in fact executed with undiluted severity bordering on the maniacal, the players focusing on distinct gestures like if they were their last acts on earth, the fastidious care with which every strained note reveals primary harmonics and composite overtones at the basis of a growing sense of inside involvement that places the listener's seat amidst the performing musicians almost factually. It is not implausible, indeed, to perceive the tiniest human component while attempting to decode the messages; the soft whistle of the air exhaled from someone's nose is clearly identified in a couple of stiller segments, which makes one imagine tight-lipped absorption and shut eyes in pursuit of a barefooted kind of rightness. In the midst of unmitigated tones, coarse scrapes and impulsive droning clusters, an amazing shade appears for only a few precious instants: it's a 'resonance piano', namely - in Nina Polaschegg's words - 'a recording of single piano chords played via speakers into the strings of a second grand piano'. A hauntingly gripping presence, whose elusiveness seems to signify an insinuation of declining memory, its sonic worth a critical constituent of this stunning work.
Dafeldecker's title track is both a direct response to the nearly religious atmosphere of the previous piece and a study on abrupt dynamic shifts, mostly typified by the alternance of straightforward motions in semi-silent environments (in turn characterized by a deeper attention towards the noisy features of the instruments, which get amplified and made resonate for long) and huge clouds of abrasive materials, impressively - and unwillingly - recalling David Jackman's massively rasping snarls at one point, circa five minutes in. In between, various kinds of oscillations, gliding squeals on metal, a meticulous pondering on the placement of the residual events. Each signal is carefully considered, reciprocal nods useful for the artists' preparation to the next flood of grittiness. Distinctive voices are in truth discernible - listen, for example, to how Butcher manages to let us hear the sax chirruping acutely, when differentiating cumulative notes and sheer clamour becomes more problematic.
And yet, whatever individual accent a pair of specialist ears might recognize, what lingers on following several days of deep scrutiny of this album is the impression of a communal levitation that, as it often happens, finds its origin in the inhospitable land where the importance of 'surpassed' concepts such as timbre, pitch and harmony is secondary, and all that's heard is rendered authoritative by an edifying lack of pretension.
- Massimo Ricci, Brain Dead Eternity -


Polwechsel's recruitment of AMM pianist John Tilbury to play on their sixth album would be a crassly obvious step if the results weren't so grand. The mainly Middle European ensemble, which slimmed down to a quartet after making this record (double bassist Werner Dafeldecker, cellist Michael Moser, and percussionists Martin Brandlmayr and Burkhard Beins are still around; saxophonist John Butcher has left) was founded to accomplish a mission; to bring improvisational aesthetics and associated sounds into composition.
The notion isn't as remarkable as it was when they started 15 years ago. The ensemble's preference for measured, minimal gestures over the expressionism that founding member Radu Malfatti once indulged has become so codified in other hands that you can pick your name for it (Reductionism, New London Silence, Onkyo). Tilbury is an improviser whose playing is inevitably compared to the work of composer Morton Feldman, which is fine as far at it goes - Tilbury once made an ace quadruple CD of the man's piano works - but ignores the many other things he does equally well.
Field's first piece "Place, Replace, Represent" resembles a concerto because Tilbury's sublime passes over the keyboard so ably occupy the foreground while the rest of Polwechsel stick to measured rasps and isolated strikes. But the closer you listen, the more interweave is apparent. The percussionists' stark beats fall into the tonal and procedural paths of Tilbury's prepared piano; his inside-the-box glisses join the thatch of frictional string and drum-skin voicings. More illusory ghosts emerge as recorded piano chords play through a second piano and out through speakers into the studio air, where Tilbury's figures creep around them. The saxophone sighs, shadowed infinitesimally by the strings.
In "Fields", the album's second half, the musicians swap their already sparingly used notes in favor of sounds and the music becomes even more detailed. The six players deploy creaks, knocks, purrs and elongated slides as thoughtfully and essentially as they did the first piece's identifiable instrumental sounds, forming carefully dimensioned surfaces that encircle the listener until you find yourself deep inside the music, only to make the surfaces disappear into an emptiness articulated by thin wiry glides. Tilbury reasserts his instrument's identity 16 minutes in, essaying cut-short chords against a bright flair of mechanically stimulated cymbals. Nothing, he seems to say, has been forgotten, but nothing will be thrown wholesale and thoughtless into the mix. Despite its spare sound this is total music, aware of near and distant pasts, open to a breadth of methods and sounds, dramatic and rich and complete.
- Bill Meyer, Dusted Magazine -

For Polwechsel's sixth album the reductionist ensemble are joined by John Tilbury, former AMM member and renowned Morton Feldman interpreter, an obvious decision, sure, but one that yields jaw-dropping results. 'Field' continues the group's research into post-digital improvisation, and the fluctuating ensemble is again all acoustic: pianist Tilbury alongside saxophonist John Butcher, cellist Michael Moser, bassist Werner Defeldecker and percussionists Burkhard Beins and Martin Brandlmayr. As fans of the group will be aware, however, categories such as 'electronic' and 'acoustic' matter little, as the intense focus which these musicians invest into exploring their instrument's extra-musical potentials results in sounds from which their source is frequently impossible to determine.
The two twenty + minute tracks of 'Field' explore contrary approaches. Moser's 'Place / Replace / Represent' is concerned with punctuating space with sparse, individual gestures, and it's here that Tilbury's input is most clearly felt. He coaxes dampened, treated sounds from his instrument, relishing the piano's wooden shell as much as the strings, and when clear notes are allowed to resound they are gorgeous. If this piece resembles the pointillistic Feldman of 'Triadic Memories' and 'For John Cage', Dafeldecker's 'Field' is Coptic Light, creaks, groans and scrapes smeared into a restless drone. Footsteps, bird calls and Jeck-hiss suddenly expands into a cloud of Deathprod-esque bass, concluding with the sound of bombs falling into peaceful space. This is improvisation of the most involved and involving kind, and music of the most engaging.
- Joshua Meggitt, Cyclic Defrost -

The latest lineup of one of the greatest groups in minimalist improvisation (cellist Michael Moser, saxophonist John Butcher, bassist Werner Defeldecker and percussionists Burkhard Beins and Martin Brandlmayr), as heard on 2006's Archives of the North, works fantastically well, and seem on this 2007 studio recording to willfully take on a support role. Theirs is a much fuller sound than the previous lineups of the band. Silence is not a factor here, although certainly not all musicians play all the time, and the focus remains more on the creation of sound in itself than traditionally musical sounds. And of course, what is central is the group dynamic, the interplay. Polwechsel might not work within harmonic structures, but it works for much as a band.
Through varying lineups Moser's group has always excelled at creating sound palates more likely to be associated with electronic instruments. Against, and within, this backing, Tilbury's piano sounds gorgeous. The disc is comprised of two tracks, both about 20 minutes. "Place / Replace / Represent", credited to Moser, is the more delicate of the two, which makes the prolonged, static noises in Dafeldecker's "Field" all the more surprising. Needless to say with such an ensemble, all of the musicians excel. Field is a valuable addition to the discographies of both Polwechsel and Tilbury.
- Kurt Gottschalk, The Squid's Ear -

The group was formed by the Viennese quartet of Dafeldecker and Moser alongside trombonist Radu Malfatti and guitarist Burkhard Stangl. This lineup recorded their first album in 1995, following which Malfatti left, to be replaced by saxophonist John Butcher. This lineup recorded Polwechsel 2 and 3 and in 2002, with Fennesz guesting, 'Wrapped Islands'. Stangl left in 2003, and the instrumentation subsequently changed significantly with the addition of percussionists Beins and Brandlmayr, although their sound becomes not significantly more percussive as a result. This lineup recorded the groups' last album, 'Archives of the North' (2006) and now, on 'Field', they are joined by pianist John Tilbury, who is best known for his work over many years with AMM.
The tracks on 'Archives of the North' were atypically brief. If this was in an effort to focus the groups' material and/or methodology in order to make the recordings more readily appealing and digestible for the listener, then the strategy was unsuccessful. 'Archives' is by some measure the least satisfying Polwechsel recording. As a step in the groups' constant evolution or auto-renewal, on the other hand, the evidence yielded by 'Field' suggests that valuable gains were made all the same. The album's two long tracks (Place / Replace / Represent and Field, both around 20 minutes) reveal the composers' (Moser's and Dafeldecker's) unique imprints more strongly than ever before; but also, they further consolidate every contributors' effort into a coherent collective identity.
In the slowly developing structures of these two strikingly different compositions Polwechsel show themselves to be quite egoless. It took a few listens for the inclination to set in to pick apart the instrumentation. It's not easy; the group plays such exactingly complementary lines. But without doubt, on close listening it is Tilbury whose identity emerges most vividly; his piano adds a rich resonance to some already gloriously deep and rich sonorities.
Place… begins with the collective extracting slow, almost ghostly lines from their instruments, and frequently intruding sympathetic silences. Tilbury interpolates finely judged, soft key and wire strikes, the partial effect of which is to instill a subtle and widely-spaced pulse. Proceedings become increasingly shrouded in a rarefied, foggy ambiance. A gong, or gong-like cymbal strike about five minutes before the end of this piece signals the start of a curiously unsatisfactory movement that unsettles this mood while nothing new is added, so an abrupt burst of static to herald the beginning of the title track is quite welcome. Three minutes later this gives way to a brief, spooky almost vocal sound and a single line of tautly bowed gut, before the static swarm returns, amplified and enriched with the ringing of metal percussion, a rich cloud of noise that abruptly cedes to a high, metallic spiraling, then a silence punctuated by wooden clicks. And so the piece goes on: the evanescent static cloud returns after each variable interpolation denser and more all-enveloping, each time enriched by a new element (notably a softly sustained, gutturally woody incantation).
- Tim Owen, The Jazzman -

...Polwechsel, die ihre konzentrierten Geräuschmeditationen um das weiche, fast verklärte Klavierspiel John Tilburys ergänzten. Werner Dafeldecker und Michael Moser haben die beiden auf Field veröffentlichten Stücke geschrieben, deren insgesamt strengere Formkonzeption, gemeinsam mit dem weitgehend unverfremdeten Klavierklang Tilburys, der CD einen ins Kompositorische gehenden Nimbus verleiht. Diese sechste ist deshalb auch Polwechsels bislang vielleicht untypischste Veröffentlichung.
- Björn Gottstein, Positionen -

Jetzt haben sie's schon wieder getan. Nach dem hochgelobten Vorgänger-Album "Archives Of The North" (siehe freiStil #9) haben Polwechsel wieder die Charts dieser schmalen Zeitschrift gestürmt und landen mit "Field" und John Tilbury lonely at the top. Aber warum denn?, fragt die skeptische Leserin. Puritanismus? Korruption? Einfallslosigkeit? Weder, noch, keine Ahnung!, antwortet die Herausgeberin. Es geht vielmehr um Beharrlichkeit, um Radikalität und das hinter jeder Ecke lauernde Überraschungsmoment. Zwar bleibt Polwechsel in gewissem Sinn seiner Linie treu und macht sich nicht zum Quotenkasperl. Aber was heißt in dieser schillernden Musik schon Linientreue? Zumal das Quintett samt Gast das - auch an dieser Stelle zart propagierte - Vorurteil des Minimalismus mit einem Hurra unterläuft. Anders gefragt: So viel Freiheit bei so strenger Textur, wo gibt’s denn sowas? Vielleicht lässt sich die Fixierung auf ein Charakteristikum in der Gleichzeitigkeit von mindestens zwei, wenn nicht drei Charakterisika auflösen und schrittweise erweitern. Punkt 1: Polwechsel heißt unter anderem: Jeder Ton ist wichtig, ihm gebührt die nötige Resonanz. Auch darum wird auf "Field" viel mit Echos gearbeitet. Punkt 2: Polwechsel heißt im gleichen Atemzug: Jeder Ton ist wichtig, aber verhüten wir mit allen erlaubten Mitteln seine Bedeutungsschwangerschaft! Punkte 3 + 4: Bitte selbst ergänzen! In diesem Spannungsverhältnis, das sich auf relativ engem Raum, wenn auch bei offenem Horizont (also weit jenseits sogenannter Hochkultur) abspielt, gebiert man auch unerwartete Parallelitäten oder wenigstens Anklänge an Noise in gebotener epischer Zubereitung – sagen wir: à la Neu! oder Neurosis, je nach Hörwinkel. Was bedeutet da noch Reduktionismus anderes als ein Pickerl, das man auf Polwechsel-Platten draufpickt, ohne sich extra Gedanken über deren Inhalt machen zu müssen? Was man wirklich braucht, ist vorschlagsweise: den Fernseher abdrehen, sich vom Fauteuil erheben, den Popo bewegen und sagen und fragen: Oha! What the f... is this? Auch in diesem Sinn liegt der phänomenale Pianist John Tilbury als perfekter Polwechsel-Partner nahe. Weil er wert legt auf die Konzentration auf die Struktur – bei gleichzeitiger Verhinderung ihrer Heiligsprechung. Hm, wieder ein verdammt fabelhaftes Album. Oder, in kaum wahrnehmbarer Abwandlung eines Beatles-Hits, Polwechsel & Tilbury Field Forever!
- Felix, Freistil -

Ce sixiéme enregistrement de Polwechsel semble boucler la boucle des innovations dont une partie importante des improvisateurs d'aujourdhui ont été les récipiendaires avisés. La présence de John tilbury est bien sur emblématique de cette sortie hors des catégories séparant l'improvisation du composé tant il incarne comme pianiste d'AMM bien sur mais aussi comme interpréte de Terry Jennings, Morton Feldman ou Cornelius Cardew cette avant garde pour qui la partition et le jeu instrumentale devaient opérer une vaste bifurcation vers un monde prémonitoire de timbre. Là où silence et son ayant en commun le temps ce dernier suffit à estomper les frontiéres entre les genres et le primat de l'harmonie.
La composition n'est plus réduite à la fixité des hauteurs et à la virtuosité mais plonge dans l'enharmonie l'hyperchromatisme des projections sur de longues périodes trés loin de la notion de solo qui tua l'improvisation des années 60.
Les changements d' éffectifs du groupe autour du noyau des deux compositeurs fondateurs Werner Dafeldecker et Michael Moser trouvent un écho parfait dans le jeu de Tilbury son innimitable beauté opérant tantot par petites attaques dans les médiums ou par clusters dans le registre des basses; du gamelan, aux résonances frottées, aux courtes incises cristallines la palette acoustique de son jeu appuie toutes les catégories de sons produitent par le quintet.
L'apport de Beins et Brandlmayr est elle aussi considérable; la percussion qui fut des l'origine une innovation dans l'orchestre (voir Cowell, Varése puis Cage) substitue à l'harmonie ses agents complexes, tissant la plus grande allégence possible au bruit sans perdre la spécificité de l'instrument.
Le groupe sonne des lors comme une entité fusionnelle un bloc timbrale traversé de fragments idiosyncrasiques. Prenons le morceau éponyme Fields dont la nature programmatique se résorbe peu à peu dans la polyvalence des acteurs. Il est emblématique de ce qui s'acte à travers la mise en onde de la musique selon Polwechsel qui porte sur tout l'ambitus des instruments et leurs spécificités au sein de chaques explosions bruitistes.
Il y a ainsi des mouvements obliques de départ ou d' arrivée d'unisson qui se prolongent en tension ou au contraire en des formes miroir de timbres. Le départ et les coupures entre envellopes droites des coulées pansonores et le relatif pointillismes des incises instrumentales donnant la structure d' une expérience sensorielle de tension bruit / musique silence/ fracas avec toutes les gradations possibles de l'une á l'autre faisant de Fields un véritable champ de force en proie à une fusion incertaine.
Resterais ą déterminer les proportions entre les parties pour voir si une certaine symétrie renforce la nature dialectique du "champ". Trés beau morceau d' une clarté sans appel. La premi'ere piéce quand à elle use de deux pianos dont l'un est mis en résonance par les accords fixés d'un enregistrement dont Tilbury triture les composants en live. Un peu à la facon de Lucier dans "Strawberry fields". Une facon plus discréte de joué avec l'instrument et la trace indicielle de l'enregistrement. Cela permet des variations discrétes au sein d'un réseau de textures toujours plus denses. Le piano en outre opére au sein de la mémoire un découpage intéressant entre son répertoire de nature historiquement concertante et l'horizon anarchiste de l'approche non hiérarchique dans laquelle s'inscrit non seulement Polwechsel mais toute l'approche ouverte de la musique "expérimentale".
Un disque exemplaire par un ensemble habité d'un haut degré de conscience historique et des conditions où sa musique prend place aujourdhui.
- Revue et Corrigée -

Depuis une quinzaine d'années, Polwechsel est un ensemble vital pour le développement d'une esthétique de la musique contemporaine que d'aucuns qualifient de réductionniste. Au sixième chapitre de leur odyssée passionnante, le groupe modifie une nouvelle fois sa géométrie en invitant le pianiste John Tilbury pour une rencontre tout en nuances.
C'est qu'il commence ày en avoir du monde qui est passépar la case Polwechsel! Du quatuor original, il ne reste plus que Michael Moser (violoncelle) et Werner Dafeldecker (contrebasse) qui, comme le plus souvent, signent les compositions. Meme s'il s'est depuis éloigné du groupe, John Butcher (saxophones soprano et ténor), successeur depuis longtemps de Radu Malfatti (trombone), figure sur cet enregistrement. Burkhard Beins et Martin Brandlmayr (batterie, percussions), membres du collectif depuis 2004 suite au départ du guitariste Burkhard Stangl, prolongent quant à eux leur mandat. La nouveauté provient ici de la participation de John Tilbury qui, comme Fennesz l'avait fait en 2002, vient enrichir la palette de l'ensemble.
La première plage, "Place/Replace/Represent", est une composition de Moser. Discrètes percussions sporadiques, chocs sourds, souffle évanescent, glissements sur peaux et cordes, tonalités résonnantes suivent de lents chemins parallèles et se combinent parfois, comme sous l'effet d'une mystérieuse périodicité à laquelle chaque musicien semble etre soumis à des intervalles différents. Les notes cristallines du piano, effleuré avec une extreme pondération, traversent les textures et fixent aisément l'attention. Connaissant la proximité de l'interprète avec le répertoire feldmanien, on ne peut d'ailleurs s'empecher d'y entendre des échos.
Le continuum feutré de la première pièce n'annonce en rien l'intensité des contrastes de l'oeuvre-titre dont on doit l'écriture à Dafeldecker et qui emploie des stratégies très différentes. Trois notes distinctes et lentement égrenées sont rapidement englouties par un essaim d'abeilles, véritable mur de particules dont on peine à croire qu'il puisse s'ériger en l'absence de contribution électronique. Le brutal retour au calme qui s'ensuit est très relatif, de lugubres étirements et autres pulsations instables le rendant vite inconfortable. Cette alternance - entre agitation fourmillante où les contributions instrumentales se fondent en un enchevetrement dense et indissociable et suspensions aériennes qui se font de plus en plus pesantes àmesure que l'on progresse dans ce "Field" - forme le coeur de sa structure. La fracture finale intervient sans signe annonciateur, à l'image de cette pièce radicale qui, à elle seule, donne à ce disque tout son tranchant.
- Jean-Claude Gevrey, Scala Tympani -

Ah, voilà un de ces disques qu'on repère avant sa sortie, qu'on prie son disquaire de commander, qu'on se prépare à écouter avec l'envie de "reconnaitre" (un son de groupe faconné, une géologie unique) et de "découvrir"; il faut avouer que, d'album en album, Polwechsel a su créer, par les ajustements de son effectif et la documentation de ses évolutions esthétiques, un désir chez l'auditeur avide de "l'épisode suivant"… Cette sixième publication marque, à plusieurs égards, une importante étape dans l'histoire de l'orchestre après la récente int&egravégration des percussionnistes Burkhard Beins et Martin Brandlmayr aux cotés des membres fondateurs Werner Dafeldecker (contrebasse) et Michael Moser (violoncelle) : saxophoniste soprano & ténor du groupe depuis dix ans, John Butcher a choisi de le quitter après cet enregistrement.
L'invitation faite, pour ce disque, à John Tilbury, signale également un infléchissement musical et confère à sa contribution une portée significative; le pianiste n'apporte pas cette suspension caractéristique d'AMM - écoutez-le avec Prévost et justement Butcher, dans Trinity, sur Matchless – mais plutot un art somptueux du "placer & déposer" les objets sonores. Les deux compositions de Moser et Dafeldecker y gagnent une belle ampleur, dans une sorte de dépassement de l'austère ascétisme (qui culminait sur le disque Durian et se formalisait chez Erstwhile) par une reverie nouvelle qui n'est pas sans rappeler certaines options des premiers scénarios du groupe. Séquences & jeux de structures, alternances & bascules de polarités, élégance & obstination, c'est tout Polwechsel, mais taillé dans des tissus plus piqués, frotté dans des essaims d'une autre légèreté...
- Guillaume Tarche, Improjazz -

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