Two Trombone Solos
recorded at Acud, Berlin, "Solo Impro Festival" on June 12, 2018
and at Goethebunker, Essen, "Free Essen Festival" on October 4, 2016
photo by Cristina Marx
mamü music #4
By Keith Prosk
Trombonist Matthias Müller showcases the growth of his expansive, distinctive style on two freely-played solos lasting 52 minutes on Acud/Bunker. Müller recorded “Bunker” in 2016 just a few months after his first solo recording, solo trombone , and recorded “Acud” in 2018. Müller’s reputation seems to place him as a team player, adapting as much to near-silent soundscapes of extended technique as to energetic, fiery free jazz (demonstrated well by the contrast between the recently reissued Super Earth and Live im Künstlerhaus ). solo trombone provided a vital document of his style and a catalog of his technique in a vacuum; Acud/Bunker seems to provide a document of the development of his style and technique with the time between recording dates.
“Bunker” is a 28-minute set with a small break and some applause kept in the middle of the recording. It’s a timbral collage featuring a breathy static modulated with pressure play, air notes like flickering flames, deep throaty oms punctuated with tinny muted swells, foghorn blows, balloons deflating, muted wah wah morse code, and a kind of metallic tapping like a typewriter, among a menagerie of other sounds. Sometimes the sounds are just sound; sometimes they play to the carnivalesque, jocular, suspenseful, or noirish moods the instrument is so often called upon to personify. And Müller is just as comfortable injecting more traditional tones - including the teacher from Peanuts - into the mix with his more exploratory timbres.
The foundation of “Acud” contains many of the same elements as “Bunker,” though with additional timbres like his valve release air notes, air notes like sand across a snarehead, draining or sucking incorporated in the breathy static with more saliva and new embouchures, horse snorts, and machine gun staccato. It might be partly due to better mic’ing, but the increased dynamism in breath- and mouth-play that can be heard here is significant. Whereas “Bunker” is a relatively rapid-fire barrage, “Acud” takes it a step further, containing a lot of continuous play achieved through circular breathing. And the moods mentioned previously are here too, with a particularly suspenseful dyad recalling Grachan Moncur III’s efficacy in simplicity (e.g. “The Twins”) and building from a kind of alarm to a buzzing swarm. This is a really solid set that shouldn’t be missed.
So, for those that have been following Müller, what’s here won’t necessarily surprise but provide an affirmation of the reasons why they started to follow him. For those that haven’t, this is a great introduction to a top notch trombonist that’s always expanding the vocabulary of the instrument and themselves. It serves as an excellent companion piece to solo trombone, demonstrating the instrumentalist’s growth from that point. Like his debut solo, it again provides vital documentation of his distinctive style outside of a band. Recommended.
Acud/Bunker is a digital-only release.
By Andrzej Nowak (original: polish)
Welcome to two concert sets for the trombone solo! The first one from Berlin (Acud, Solo Impro Festival, summer 2018), the second one from Essen (Goethebunker, Free Essen Festival, autumn 2016). Total duration 51 minutes and 42 seconds.
At the start of the first of the concerts we have the impression that we found ourselves in a tunnel saturated with the sounds of dying post-electronics. A drone of red air reaches us, which at one time seems to be exceptionally cold, at other times extremely warm. As if we were watching something exceptionally charming through the glass, which is dull. After a few minutes, however, the drone starts to approach us, as well as to jam and stratify. After 5 minutes, the flow of narration takes the form of noises and rustling, full of darkness and mystery. Just before 7 minutes have passed we finally hear the clear sound of the trombone - bare skin, without any additives or preparations. However, the musician still prefers longer phrases. In about 10 minutes there are accents of pulsating air, which take on the dimension of a pair of percussion. With this method the musician goes down almost to the level of silence. It hisses and hums - this is the trombone that breathes. Matthias doesn't go anywhere, he caresses the phases, he caresses single sounds. His story is full of details, details, also prepared sounds. The next phase of the concert is a murmuring, slightly danceable phrase, which is an introduction to the next drone epic. This theme is based on the pure sound of the tin. The drone starts to live, to jiggle, to release air not devoid of twisted melodics and looped rhythms. The artist extinguishes the story with masterful precision.
The second concert offers us at the entrance a trombone with a cleaner sound, taking steps on a slightly higher sound level. However, the sounds quickly stick into something like a drone, which also tastes like dance, but this time it's a dance on ... lines. The musician agilely goes to the phase of half preparation, deconstruction of the noise and killing the sound. He completes this thread just as quickly and receives a handful of applause. Without any delay he starts to build a new story. At the beginning, he gives us a bit of technical show-offs, but the best professional in the industry can afford it! The musician talks to himself, hisses, snouts and wails. Then he thickens and loops the narrative, expressively hums, prepares the sound until it reaches a difficult for our ears, but very impressive squeak. In the middle of the set - for a break - he offers us a few passages of clean, trombone work of a zipper and tin tubes. He sings, burps, puts his neck up. In 18 minutes we will have a short, percussion dance of the sheet metal itself, how spectacular, commented on with wind salvos! One of the most beautiful moments of the whole album! Bravo! Just after it, a few rhythmic snouts and a wacky tremola - trombone in its best! Noises, breathing, also dynamic phrases! After 24 minutes the musician and his hot trombone start to calm down gradually. As part of the process - a clever, multidimensional humming-sounding drone! The plumber of the big tin itself. The sounds fade away, like a bear that goes into winter sleep. Bravo again!
released June 4, 2020