The more I listen to his music, the more convinced I become that Udo Schindler is one of the un(der)sung master reedsmen both in the strange streams of sound he coaxes out of his horns and the concerted way he avoids the conventional grammar. It is as if he is building a new vernacular for his instrument in real time.
Schindler's unique style comes through particularly well in duos and, it seems, in live performances. He took the pandemic to dig through his back catalog of recordings. Many of these reached public ears through download only releases on his Bandcamp page and, notably, many were duos. Indeed, Schindler seems to have really gravitated to the duo, likely somewhat because of practicality but also because of the possibilities of that configuration. It offers big spaces for each musician to be heard — full blast or sotto voce — and gives each a counterpart — sometimes a companion and others a sparring partner — with whom to bounce around ideas and to whom to respond. Depending on the instrumentation and the players, it also frees the musicians from rhythm's centripetal force and gives them license to explore other, in this case amelodic and atonal, places.
By now, of course, musicians have returned to the stage. In March 2022, Schindler and multi-instrumentalist Ardhi Engl met for a performance in Munich's BASIS-Klangraum for an intimate session of nine duos, captured here on BASIS_B(r)uchstücke. Schindler came to the session with clarinets and theremin, something rarely heard in such formats perhaps because of how understated its sound is. Engl brought along a slew of homemade instruments. Many seem to be strings and wind instruments, though it is sometimes difficult to tell, just as, at points, it is difficult to discern his from Schindler's contributions. Others sound electronic, complementing Schindler's warbling with crackling fuzz. This album covers a lot of sonic terrain. The musicians deploy everything from clucks and squeals to entwining trills and warped foghorn calls to metal-on-metal grind. Really, almost everything except for clear extended melodies or full tones (though the latter do slip through fleetingly at points.) That diversity, however, works when harnessed by these two musicians. I know little about their prior history together. But it is clear that in March of 2022, they hit their stride together — fragmented and wonderfully, relentlessly oblique.
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