FMP/FREE MUSIC PRODUCTION - An Edition of Improvised Music 1989-2004

OWN 90007/8 (CD1/2)

Andreas Kallfelz


Cheerful Combining and Combinatorics

Free Jazz requires an unconditional and spontaneous readiness to suffer. The enthusiast has to pay for what the musician thinks he owes to himself and the others. This temporary relationship, however, is preceded by a different story, a concealed process: the one which creates the feelings of guilt (indebtedness) and comes out of the secret awareness of one's own, equivocal emotional integument. To fight their presence by the means of "pure" self expression only brings temporary relief and remains fixed to its contradictor basis. In the end, there is anyhow no way - and certainly no consistent way - to get out of this tight spot.

Beyond consistency, however, there is also the area of what one allows for oneself. There we witness Rüdiger Carl consecutively compensating for the consequences of guilt by refreshing surges of feelings which temporarily take the weight of interpretation of our shoulders. The break with harmony is followed by the break with disharmony guiding the musical perception into a space where it is rewarded for the demands on its tolerance by clearly equivocal feelings. The combinatorics of "Book" follows the rule of mutual proportioning and overt ambiguity. Against the expectation of a self-contained musical system it presents a tableau beyond "good and evil", a collection of relative motifs, with a tendency to linking together, on the quiet, with a mixture of innocence and impudence.

At first sight, we are dealing with a musical family album, with group excursions into the wilderness, concentrated exchanges of thought, amusing-raving parties, contemplative moments with pets by the fireside and so on, the hours you spend alone and the ones spent in the company of others. A collection of fragmentary stories from a period of more than 20 years: and there was this and that and it could also have been different. The actors change and return and, the results are accordingly different or comparable but, after a period of listening, the individual situations appear in a wider context. This lies in the shifting of meaning beyond the intention of the moment which causes a diffused tension: whatever actually is happening cannot be sure of its status. Concrete requirements can easily be fulfilled but remain, at the same time, a problem of definitions. Modular blocks are laid down but there is no instruction of exactly how they are supposed to be filled. Passages of composition are executed in discreet manner but their meaning is not obvious. In reality the freedom of improvisation is relative right from the first sound.

The responsible element for all this is - so to speak - the Other. Concretely this Other consists of the various readopted nostalgic or avant-garde models which, in this case, not only sound differently but merge with the respective pieces in such a manner that they appear changed in themselves. The difference is often wafer-thin, so that single pieces function as two layers superimposed on each other and hardly distinguishable but never actually touching. In some cases, however, the models even disappear entirely from view, are covered by explosions of sound or lurk inside the open decision of what to do next. A gap, in which meaning becomes ambiguous, develops between what is actually happening and the model, a kind of hazardous area, internally doubling and creating a level on which the music enters into a self-reflecting relationship with itself. It represents a certain musical form but is not identical with it.

The second Other is linked with the irritations and coincidences which play into the - normally self-contained - system of the music, the extraneous sounds, the ambient noise, resonances, all those elements of the outside and of the "real" space which - in their implications as untraceable as the history one refers to - from the indispensable frame of the musical action. They are not defined as part of the musical system but as an omnipresent external space which fixed one's own position within the contingency of its surroundings. So, in a piece like "Saints", the level of music undergoes a shift already through the sound of the old piano as part of the indeterminable elements of its private environment which is even intensified by the searching, imperfect and both intimate and yet distant kind of interpretation, underpinned by yet another layer,

Sometimes, these peripheral worlds even become the fundamental factor and get joyously washed up from the low lands of the anarchic soma into the centre of activity, as in the first piece of the September Band where the musical gesture of striding out" runs into happy absurdities through the contradictory mannerisms of a grunting or folkloric sound generator (daxophone and accordion). Along with this are also the cheap sounds of toy electronics gone crazy to which the brilliant group of dilettantes 'Jailhouse' has dedicated itself, or the absurd inversion where the gurgling of a black forest brook - in an imaginary relationship with a famous Kassel water-pipe organ - creates the rhythmical background for an icon-like waltz and becomes the coda of the entire collection.

There remain: the Others (also including oneself). In fact, this is about communication, negotiation, possible levels of communication and contact. But the principle of authorship (composition) and the one of the closely-knit community (improvisation) united by a blind understanding, two possible models for clear-cut relationships, dissolve in favour of a third, in fact impossible or at least non-linear principle where the communication partner is subject to a definite structured system - however this may be defined - without really being governed by it and without complying with it in a restrictive sense. Here, as well, the structure defines a communication inter space where tension develops between fixed directives, preconditions and the Others who cannot be defined and grasped during the process. Its functioning is due to the fact tat these "proceedings" are pursued with a seriousness and joviality at the same time. Not creating a dogma, neither emerging by chance, the arrangements aim at keeping the distance as a precondition to going beyond it. The crack of the whip in the Paris children's room improvisation (CD1, 16) is not there by chance but remains integrated within the performance. The authorship of Rüdiger Carl induces emotions which become real on a shifted level and find their way back into the proceedings.

The interplay of the controlled framework and what emerges from the control within this framework marks a free space between the participants where the (confidential) communication happens through taking on different possible locations. These are emotional but only gain access through their integration into combinatorics which, on the one hand, limit the respective musical space as an actual process but, on the other hand, reopen all options in cheerful combining and interchanging between different musical and extra-musical "scenes", the devotion to double meaning and pleasure in the dubious.

Translation: Isabel Seeberg & Paul Lytton

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