CD: Synopsis




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Artist: Beuret-Koch-Vonlanthen

Date of Release: 30/11/2008

Catalogue no: AS261

Label: Altrisuoni

Price: £12

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Track Listing







Synopsis (part 1 - 24)





With "Synopsis", Beuret Koch Vonlanthen invite themselves into your imagination. Their resolutely innovative music is the ideal score to your daydreams and is also an invitation to travel, during your sleepless nights, towards the borders of the musical universes.
Their sonic explorations, where electro-acoustic and contemporary classic and avant-guard jazz music converge, will cast you into the world of the unheard from which you'll not be ready to return from.
This magnificent trio exists since 2006. They've achieved musical maturity with the performing of the 15 concerts that gave them the material for this album. The bond between these excellent musicians, their virtuosity and their inventiveness transcend the graphical compositions of Denis Beuret and allows them to reach the sensibility of the listeners.
So fasten your seat belts and get ready for take-off!




08/06/2009 Ken Waxman, JazzWord

Discovering sonic rapprochement between acoustic instruments and electronics is in many ways the most pressing situation to be resolved by improvisers in the 21st Century. Numerous and diverse solutions to this conundrum have been advanced by an assortment of musicians. These CDs demonstrate how two European brass-reed-electronics trios deal with the concept.
Interestingly enough, Swiss veterans Beuret/Koch/Vonlanthen actually use more obvious electronic attachments than the young Belgian performers who make up Collectief reFLEXible. Conversely and ironically though, the interface on Realgar sounds more electronic. That’s precisely because the Belgium crew is comfortable enough with advanced techniques, that its members to tilt their instruments’ sounds to strip away most acoustic properties.
Collectief reFLEXible consists of two Brussels natives, alto saxophonist Thomas Olbrechts, who introduces elements such as live sampling, live television and live cam into musical performances; and Joachim Devillé, a trumpeter, flugelhornist and visual artist. The third member, Antwerp-based electronics manipulator Stefan Prins, has won compositional prizes and received several commissions from the Flemish government. Collectively the trio has an ongoing relation with the Champ d’Action ensemble for contemporary experimental music; has been in residency at Amsterdam’s STEIM; and besides creating soundtracks and graphic scores, has worked with local experimenters such as bassist Peter Jacqemyn and visitors such as British guitarist John Russell and American trombonist Steve Swell.
Best-known of the Swiss trio is Zurich-based bass clarinetist Hans Koch. A member of the Koch-Schütz-Studer combo and the Barry Guy New Orchestra, he has also worked with musicians as disparate as pianist Cecil Taylor and clarinetist Louis Sclavis. Moving force on Synopsis however is trombone conceptualist Denis Beuret, also a music professor in Fribourg, who recently released a dazzling, unaccompanied solo set on Leo Records. Influenced by jazz, contemporary classical music and electronics, the CD’s program consists of the three musicians – electric guitarist Vinz Vonanthen is the trio’s third member – interpreting 24 graphic scores by Beuret. Both horn men play live electronics as well. Based in Geneva, Vonanthen’s playing partners have ranged from pianist Sylvie Courvoisier to trumpeter Kenny Wheeler.
Imposing in execution – and improvisations – the riddle of Synopsis is how much connective material is provided by Beuret’s scores. While there are five versions of “Synopsis No. 24”, plus three of “Synopsis No. 03” and two each of “Synopsis No. 28”, “Synopsis No. 04” and “Synopsis No. 06”, none of these variants appear any more melodically connected to one another then they are to the remaining single tracks. Take “Synopsis No. 24” for instance. Throughout the five variants, no obvious formula determines how much or how little electronic patching is required.
The first and longest version features the trombonist slurring watery echoes from his horn as Koch’s altered reed tones clank and pan and the guitarist’s microtonal string taps echo back onto themselves. Variant two exposes ring modulator-like clangs melting into plunger tones from Beuret, while what appears to be Vonlanthen’s palm taps on a fretless guitar contrast decisively with Koch’s consistent reed snorts. Sequences of contrapuntal reed vibrations and emphasized wah-wah tones from the trombonist dominate the third version, cumulating in Koch’s quivering trills reverberating back onto themselves. The penultimate variation finds Koch’s initial, mutated reed bites further distorted by electronics. In oblique counterpoint to this, Beuret’s double tonguing and Vonanthen twangs and fist-rapping on the strings, evolve chromatically in near harmony until finally surmounted by intermittent clarinet glissandi. Undercurrents of patched flanges distinguish the final version from the others, as computer-altered trombone warbling and bass clarinet whoops move in triple counterpoint with the guitarist’s slurred fingering.
In contrast, the stand-alone “Synopsis No. 13”, which at a hair over five minutes is Synopsis’ longest track, offers up segmented Klangfarbenmelodie. With multiple tones, timbres and pulsations audible, the piece unrolls with strident reed squeaks, bell-like guitar cranks and cavernous ‘bone blasts which collectively dissolve to isolate guitar string snaps. Elsewhere adumbration of electronic drones interrupts the ground bass continuum to reveal portamento diaphragm vibrations from Koch as well as Beuret’s corkscrew plunger tones, as guitar oscillations reference what could be rocket-ship landing textures. Conceptually memorable, appreciation of the CD lies in performance rather than theory.
Free of an analogous theoretical framework, the significance of Realgar’s four lengthy tracks is that the pieces affirm their intentions through bravura playing and interconnections.
The title track for instance is layered with thunderous, mechanized pulsations that pan from one sonic area to the other as the three improvise upfront. Adding a Greek chorus of shuddering squalls and strident shrieks, the underlying forms put in bolder relief such techniques as extended glissandi plus squeak and bites from Olbrechts, as well as bubbling slurs from Devillé. With Prins’ interface wobbling unsteadily below, the horn men combine to weave tongue slaps and banshee yells into interlocking timbres.
Similarly built on an undercurrent of rampaging voltage, the parameters are still translucent enough on “Exposed” to expose mouth pops and tongue slaps from the saxophonist plus whines and valve-less air pressure from the trumpeter. As static loops pulsate in sequence, Devillé blows tremolo tones high and higher to bring in extra partials along with the original notes, and Olbrechts honks with an exaggerated diaphragm vibrato. Retreating to narrowed squeaks, the trumpeter final efforts are contrapuntally opposed by the saxophonist’s low-pitched tongue slaps.
Given larger canvases on which to experiment, Collectief reFLEXible’s sonic impressions are as notable as those of Beuret/Koch/Vonlanthen. Although only the later, may be able to theorize the background to its creations, the high creative standard provided by both trios is more important than music explained.


04/06/2009 Andrey Henkin, All About Jazz New York

Switzerland is not as neutral as one might think, at least when it comes to music. Bordered by Germany, France, Italy and Austria, the country is a mix of cultures and languages, with cities like Zurich, Geneva and Berne functioning as a microcosm of the European continent. With a population of almost eight million people, it has had a long jazz tradition, from drummers Charly Antolini and Pierre Favre and pianists Irene Schweizer and Sylvie Courvoisier to newer ambassadors like Gregoire Maret and Nik Bärtsch.
About as different as you can get is the trio of Denis Beuret (trombone, electronics), Hans Koch (bass clarinet, electronics) and Vinz Vonlanthen (electric guitar) and their live-from-many-locations disc Synopsis. Obviously these guys require lots of power strips and listeners will need remarkable attention to get to the centers of the 24 improvised pieces recorded in Spring-Summer 2007. Koch, born in Biel, is the oldest by at least 15 years and also the most well-known, though Beuret is a fine player, as evidenced by 2008’s Alone (Leo). Synopsis is a misleading title; there is little in the way of resolution here. In fact, the miniscule bleeps, clinks and toots are definitely more journey than destination, understated and almost insectoid.


02/06/2009 The IAJRC Journal

A similar zone of electro-acoustic music is explored by another trio, Beuret Koch Vonlanthen, on their concert recording Synopsis. Trombonist Denis Beuret’s Synopsis is a series of graphic scores that specify some parameters of music but omit any chord notations or specific pitches. It’s a concept that soars or falls flat depending on the skills and attitudes of the musicians, and in bass clarinetist Hans Koch and electric guitarist Vinz Vonanthen, Beuret has some extraordinarily sensitive help in successfully realizing this music. Beuret an Koch are also credited with live electronics, so their palette is virtually limitless. With on-the-spot electronic manipulation and distortion the order of the day, it’s a surprise when they nearly get back to the native sounds of the instruments, wich they do rather sparingly.
One definition of « synopsis » is « a condensed statement » and that’s certainly the case with these mostly short, dense excursions into a sometimes forbidding sound world. The CD is a seamless hour-long compendium of two dozen well-recorded examples of the trio’s work recorded live in a variety of Swiss performances. It’s quite a trip, via altrisuoni.com


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