Jim Denley, woodwinds
Christian Marien, drums & percussion
Pierre-Yves Martel, viola da gamba & pitch pipes
Matthias Müller, trombone
recorded live at SoundOut Festival, Canberra, Australia
February 3rd, 2019, by Kimmo Vennenon
Mixed and mastered by Volker Meitz
Tape master by Kamil Korolczuk
Special thanks to Richard Johnson for co-production and commitment and to Kamil Korolczuk for friendly support
mamü music #3
Review in "Vital Weekly" #1220, February 11, 2020
"What ties these two duets together on one cassette is that they are both live recordings and both were recorded on February 3, 2019, at the SoundOut Festival in Canberra, Australia and both duos played together for the first time. On the first side, we find Australian improvisation veteran Jim Denley on woodwinds and Christian Marien, a new name I think, on drums. Their concert is about twenty minutes (well, at least, that's we get) and it sees the duo take an interest leaping towards playing a mighty crescendo, taking it all down and do the samething; sometimes in reverse, the decrescendo. Throughout their playing together they also bounce and forth between playing the instruments in a regular way or as objects, which delivers some fine results. It rumbles, howls and rolls. The recording is of a dead natural 'pick it up the venue space', which adds to the direct character of the music. Pierre-Yves Martel, also no stranger to these pages, plays viola da gamba and pitch pipes while Matthias Müller, also acting as label owner here, plays the trombone. Their set was seventeen minutes and starts in a very sparse mode for quite some time. Only at about half the piece, it gets to a first climax and then it's quiet again. The next two outbursts are five minutes later. These two built their suspension in a great way and they too use the instruments as object approach and here too we are dealing with the excellent recording quality. Not a single moment I thought about these duos playing together for the first time; these are highly gifted improvisers, who, so I assume, could easily play with anyone else with similar experience and skill." (FdW)
Review in "esoteros" 2020/8, February 22, 2020
"Typically studio sessions and concerts of improvised music take advantage of extended times – about an hour – so that the performers can build in real time the dialogue and the intellectual understanding that any traditional band would cultivate over the course of entire weeks or months. Also and above all here lies the exceptional nature of “spontaneous music”, devoted to the process rather than the outcome, to casual amazement rather than calculated effect.
With this third cassette self-produced by German trombonist Matthias Müller we experience the same thrill of musical ‘here and now’ condensed over a time frame of less than twenty minutes. These are two live sets recorded on the occasion of the 2019 edition of the Canberra SoundOut Festival, one of the main events dedicated to free improvisation in Australia: every year, for the duration of an entire weekend, a variety of guest musicians and groups mix themselves in several new lineups to create unique and unrepeatable experiments.
Although we don’t know whether the documented live shows have lasted beyond the time of the recording, what matters is the start-up phase and the gradual arrival at a shared sound life form, in both cases originating from minimum gestures over silence.
The first duo is formed by the well-known Australian wind player Jim Denley and the percussionist Christian Marien, also half of the SuperImpose duo with the aforementioned Müller. Their “Drill Bit” recalls an even more stripped-down version of the Michel Doneda / Lê Quan Ninh pair, parallel solipsisms addressed to the sonic physicality of the respective instruments: the prolonged acutes and overtones of the saxophone, like atavistic murmurs of distant ethnic roots, surround the nervous and almost rash phonemes coming from cymbals, drums and disparate objects, sometimes dry and sometimes more frayed, in any case far from the rhythmic identity that these surfaces usually represent.
On the other side is “Dirt Bill”, Müller’s intervention alongside Pierre-Yves Martel, armed with viola da gamba and pitch pipe – basically a non-instrument, apt to provide the correct intonation to the performers; instead Martel uses it as a small harmonica, alternating minute diplophonies with a rough and imprecise bowing, with ascending progressions that cross all the semitones and then with sinister frictions of a purely noisy matrix. Müller’s trombone doesn’t seem to contemplate half measures, divided between cavernous drones and suffocated exhalations that finally break up into a code of onomatopoeic pointillisms.
In this paradigmatic underground publication, in short, the irremediable paradox of calling it ‘contemporary music’ remains, since in fact such an expressive context has no time and seems to pre-exist to any historicized art form. Tireless heroes like these and many others keep alive the flame of a fundamental sound research, among the most human and differently poetic imaginable." (Michele Palozzo)
Review at "freejazzblog" March 30, 2020
"The duos Jim Denley/Christian Marien and Pierre-Yves Martel/Matthias Müller each freely play a host of extended techniques for a sidelong track on the split album Dis-Drill. Recorded in 2019 at Canberra’s SoundOut Festival, which emphasizes first meetings, Dis-Drill documents the first time Denley (woodwinds) and Marien (drums, percussion) or Martel (viola da gamba, pitch pipes) and Müller (trombone) played together. Of course, Müller/Marien record together as the duo Superimpose and Denley/Martel recorded Transition De Phase with Philippe Lauzier, Kim Myhr, and Eric Normand.
The Denley/Marien set, “Drill Bit,” drifts through a collection of extended techniques for the instruments involved. Like much of the music these musicians make, it’s less overt conversation or call-and-response and more communication through changes in tempo, space, and volume on a substrate of timbre (with glimpses of more traditional tone). A quick ticking rim and skittering skins from Marien is met with an undulating resonant hum from Denley that transitions to a draining suck as the ticking becomes more urgent; spit play accompanies brushes like branches against the window; bowed metal with blown drumheads; swaths of breath and waves of brushes. These timbres most often begin and end with each other, rather than transitioning into each other, and can be separated by hard resets of silence, creating the feeling of a collaged environment. Sometimes the tempo, space, and volume build together towards a crescendo in these episodes before breaking into the next timbre, but most often the dynamics are relatively constrained. It’s usually quiet, but there’s not much silence beyond the timbral breaks.
The Martel/Müller set, “Dirt Bill,” follows the same dynamics and structure. But Martel’s pulsing string rubbing and percussive body tapping is met with Müller’s wood wick candle fluttering and hydraulic release exhalations; Martel’s creaking with Müller’s wheezing; Martel’s scratching glass with Müller’s rubbing balloons; and Martel’s viola sounding like a harmonica with Müller’s trombone sounding like a didgeridoo, recalling a John Hillcoat western score with Warren Ellis (which I’m sure someone in the Australian audience also heard). Martel only utilizes pitch pipes a couple times but to amusing effect towards the end of the track, sounding off a simple, almost childlike non-melody while Müller creates a kind airplane ambiance before making the pitch pipes sound like a harmonica too.
The two tracks on Dis-Drill are well-played, especially considering they’re first meetings, but want the concept and resulting structure, complexity, and cleverness that makes other echtzeitmusik recordings landmarks in contemporary music. It’s still a worthwhile listen, a promising springboard for future collaborations between these two sets of musicians, and a solid selection for the third release from Müller’s mamü music, after solo trombone and The Monophonic Havel. Dis-Drill is available digitally and on cassette." (Keith Prosk)
Review at "Spontaneous Music Tribune", January 29, 2021
January is a cursed month for reviewers and media that play with annual summaries. The latter are already locked with four triggers (The Tribune closes them each time on the last day of the year), and in our players - time and again - land albums dated from the previous year, which for various reasons did not reach us in time, in other words - did not make it to the annual résumé. It's okay if in this group we find another thousand similar recordings. Worse still, when in the first days of January we find .... a real gem! It's even worse when it turns out that the recording is almost a year old, and we - in the stupidity of our everyday life - simply overlooked it.
Here is definitive factual evidence of the phenomenon described above. A modest cassette, containing two short, freely improvised sets, recorded at the SoundOut creative music festival, in Canberra, Australia, in early February 2019. Two duets created ad hoc, Australian-German and Canadian-German, two absolute peaks of improvised music released in the hellish year 2020. Perhaps the second duet referenced here, the one from side B of the cassette, is the best 18 minutes of freely improvised music of the previous year! But enough of these ruminations - be sure to check out the cassette entitled Dis-Drill, released in Australia but also available on the bandcamp page of the German trombonist we're about to enjoy!
Side A: Jim Denley - wind instruments, Christian Marien - drums, percussion instruments (19:74)
The beginning of the set is built in maximum concentration, almost on the edge of silence. A brass tuba resonates gently, someone hits mysterious objects with their hand (a stick), and in the background something seems to be working steadily, like a small metronome. An echoing foreplay to an improvisation that explores its potential and cooperative abilities. Quite an extensive palette of sounds, which are perhaps the result of the artists' work, perhaps also the natural phonic environment of the stage on which the performance takes place. And everything is bathed in the glow of murky, but sensual electroacoustics, which is rather not generated by the musicians themselves. Murmurs, noises and micro sound events, from which the narration of the wind instrument and percussion is born. Each musician, every now and then, adds new elements to this story. Drones from the tuba, some subtle drumming with attempts to shape the rhythm and modest dynamics for now. A lot of trifles in the ocean of creativity.
After the 7th minute the musicians first gently stop and then try to build a new thread from the very bottom of the silence. With time they close their ranks and start to play louder sounds. Marien seems to be taking care of the drama, Denley is more concerned with surprises and mysterious phonies. In the next phase of the set the musicians find a common front in building resonating phrases. Something crackles on the snare drum, something happens to the dry air in the horn. The sensual hum of matte semitones builds the mood and exudes beauty. In the final section Denley reaches for an instrument that sounds like a didgeridoo, chalking up loops, snorts and sighs. Marien focuses on drumming, which enhances the effect of the booming tuba and working jets.
Side B: Pierre-Yves Martel - viola da gamba & pitch pipes, Matthias Müller - trombone (17:24)
Here is an afterlife of free improvisation that refuses to frighten the thick shell of silence - the musicians' breaths, the murmur of the vent, the hum of the strings ready to make their first sound. The trombone sizzles, the viola strings rustle. The former can sound like a percussion brush, the latter like a small electric motor. A festival of acoustic wonders, fanciful and difficult to grasp fake sounds. Viola sings like a broken harmonica, the brass giant resembles a broken windmill on a hot Australian prairie afternoon. After a while, another volta - both instruments imitate each other's sounds on the level of dry noise! What a game! Mysterious pitch pipes add three cents to the dialogue. The surprise seems to be chasing the surprise, although the narration still remains on the borderline of silence (are you sure you have good headphones?!).
After the 6th minute the musicians serve us some sounds that remind us that we have a trombone and a viola on stage. Admittedly, they draw sliding drones like ocean waves, but they sound like not fake! The story grows sensuously and takes sound in its sails. The trombone burbles, sings and rumbles, then fires phrases like a small drum. Meanwhile, the strings of the viola seem to undergo sheer torment. They moan and whine. Post-nuclear baroque in bloom! For the finale, it is the trombone that begins to whine and squeal like a tethered kitten, while the viola builds the drama of the moment by hanging on to a single phrase. The noise from the tuba creates an interesting dissonance. A spectacular ending to this unparalleled set would not be complete without the pipes, which shriek in unison (perhaps the viola also has strings in this evil work?!). The march of stylish, born again fake sounds brings us to the final silence, from which someone cut a sea of thunderous applause.