The duo of Christian Buck (guitar) and Christian Wolfarth (percussion) met via their activity in the group of musicians affiliated with the Wandelweiser collective. Their release on that label, The Music of Katharina Weber, Jack Callahan, Alex Goretzki & Alfred Zimmerlin, was their initial foray into the idea of performing works specifically written for the relatively unusual combination of guitar and percussion. This is the second, featuring two pieces each from the Swiss musician/composers Haubensak and Korber. One work by each involves the duo while the two others are compositions for soloist.
As Andy Hamilton mentions in his liner notes, 'On', by Haubensak, has an unrelenting, metronomic quality, the steady, clear guitar tones picked out in a kind of bland rhythm, accented by periodic bursts of percussion. Bland rhythmically, perhaps, but the incredibly subtle shifts in tuning make for a world of interest and beauty; half Tom Johnson and half Harry Partch, perhaps (the pitches reminding me very much of the latter's adapted guitar). And, like the best of Johnson's work, it transcends the rigid formalism, allowing something other to emerge. An unusual and mysterious work. Korber's 'Weniger Weiss', for solo snare drum (though it sounds like other instruments are brought into play), exploits that instrument's vast tonal and textural range, presenting facets in a fragmented, episodic score, sharp and riveting.
'Refugium', by Haubensak, carries echoes of Spanish guitar music (via Arabic influence), the hints of traditional melodic content attenuated into thin, though still rich, strands. As before, the tuning is unusual, per Hamilton, "two identical strings tuned one sixteenth note (33 cent) apart". The result is evocative, lonely and wistful yet strong and resilient, an entirely lovely and entrancing work. Finally, we have Korber's 'Aufhebung' ('Repeal'), an utterly fascinating, almost ritualistic exercise in rhythm and timbre, the lines from guitar and percussion (here, softly struck metal and resonant drum) criss-crossing in degrees of accentuation, time and pitch, always maintaining a strong forward momentum. I've been a fan of Korber's since the early 2000s; this is my favorite work of his to date.
An excellent recording overall with fine compositions and exceptional playing. Here's hoping the Buck/Wolfarth team continues its explorations.
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