Posted on Aug 4th 2010 01:41 am
FENNESZ DANIELL BUCK
Thrill Jockey 2010
04 Tracks. 31mins07secs
Improvisation is an art form which Christian Fennesz, David Daniell and Tony Buck have made theirs in their respective field. Recorded live at the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee at the beginning of last year, this album documents the trio’s first ever performance as an ensemble. Having never performed before was never going to be an issue for these three veterans of live improvisation. On one side is Australian drummer and percussionist extraordinaire Tony Buck, best known as one third of The Necks, with whom he has been performing and recording for twenty years. On the other are Atlanta-born David Daniell, who, beside his solo work, has collaborated with an impressive number of musicians over the years, from Thurston Moore and Douglas McCombs to Greg Davis or Sylvain Chauveau, and Austrian experimental guitarist and laptop artist Christian Fennesz, whose list of collaborators is equally as impressive, including people as diverse as Jim O’Rourke, Peter Rehberg, David Sylvian, Ryuichi Sakamoto or, recently, Sylvain Chauveau and Steven Hess.
Knoxville barely makes it to the half hour mark, but the trio pack in an incredible lot during that time as the set, split into four tracks of roughly the same length, continuously shifts between quiet sequences, where Buck’s extremely detailed and textural use of a rich and varied percussive palette often fills the sonic space, and much denser moments as the guitars, both processed and raw, become more prominent. The album opens with extremely faint brushes of metallic friction and shimmering touches of cymbals, from which progressively emerge gentle guitar forms, which eventually become more incisive and distorted. Cutting through layers of distortions and feedback, Buck responds by intensifying his cymbal work and adding rumbles of bass drums and toms, before the piece settles again and turns into Heat From Light. Treated guitars, electronics and drums are caught in a much tighter power struggle from the start here, but, far from working against each other, the trio build up the intensity of their sound as a whole and seriously increase the level of electricity running through it, until all three retreat as one and move on.
Of the four sections of the set, Antonia is by far the most atmospheric and, at times incredibly ethereal. Building on a backdrop of distortions, Fennesz layers some wonderfully airy guitar textures, at times reminiscent of Robin Guthrie or Kevin Shields, over which Daniell carves a series of delicate motifs which add to the somewhat pastoral moment, but these soon become entangled with the processed distortions scattered all over Diamond Mind, and struggle to regain a dominant position. Meanwhile, Buck once again brightens the mood by deploying an array of metallic percussions and bells, adding fine kickdrum and tom work as the intensity rises again, until the piece reaches its chaotic paroxysm when all three musicians combine their energy to give this set a last deafening blow.
While it is impossible to capture the obvious tension and energy in its entirety, Knoxville still manages to document the incredible synergy between all three musicians involved and the superb level of mutual understanding of each other’s natural space. Despite its brief format, this album is particularly dense and exciting, and can only leave the listener want for more.
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