Reviews by Massimo Ricci

The A23H chronicle


GESTALT ET JIVE - Nouvelle cuisine / Quartquintet (Moers Music)

Gestalt et Jive in Wikipedia

The snapping electricity and seemingly repressed rage that move the pieces comprised by "Nouvelle Cuisine" represent, today like 22 years ago, what justifies the abused term "avantgarde" when a writer deals with about contemporary sound art. Five musicians (Alfred Harth, Steve Beresford, Ferdinand Richard, Uwe Schmitt, Anton Fier) whose creativity has been appreciated time and again, reunited under the flag of a riddling aesthetic that requires the technical foundations typical of the best master instrumentalists but, at the same moment, is fueled by an energy that, to this day, feels dangerously "near punk", the whole dressed by a love of musical theatre and almost exaggerated gesture which sounds timely, utterly resonant with the music itself. This album spells "fermentation" more than "reflection"; you'll find difficult patterns and odd metres ("Das Wasser ist heisz" is a cross of electric-chair improvisation, dramatic vocalism and acrid non-acceptance of the listener's needs, a beautiful hybrid of Etron Fou and Cassiber), there are simpler rhythms too ("Desert lips") plus moments of total mayhem where the participants transmutate themselves into oracles for the future of a visionary attitude that, two decades later, is again struggling to be recognized by ears whose wax has by now entered their owners' life at large. Each one of the players - except Fier - is allowed a solo spot (Alfred Harth's "Tierlied" for three superimposed clarinets had me thinking of Aqsak Maboul, while Beresford is submerged by his own trombones in "Phoney Mazuma"; Richard's Fender VI reverberates in the arpeggios of "Une Princesse", and Schmitt is featured in the sketchy "Five starfish" for tomtoms and bass drum). The Farfisa organ that Beresford repeatedly uses would kill Ray Manzarek's patience; just listen to the incredibly contorted "Successful gardening begins here" where Harth, here on tenor sax, lets it all go with one of his customary burning solos that could melt the wings of angels. The absurd comparison of regular and programmed drums in "Our cruises to the sun" (Fier and Schmitt play together in this track) snatches beauty off the jaws of horribly inadmissible rhythmic mixtures. Gestalt et Jive have no time for hokum presentations, being somehow radiosensitive to the slightest impulse, which gets converted into radical, unremorseful inflexibility: no easy ways out, everything must be devoured at once - bitter, sour, excessively sweet, or how they decide that it should be. We can always enjoy the fantastic interaction of Richard with both drummers (hear the interlocking textures of "Freundliche Warnung..." and remain in silent awe) to save us from getting lost in the dissonant maze; strange kind of quadratures await for the rhythmically unpaired to clutch and hold to. Lazybones and tallow-faced sermon deliverers are not wanted: this is stuff for those who still have the will of screaming inside, even if smiling outside. The specimens that are going to prevail after the redde rationem, although the blood will be ebullient because of an incurable polyrhythmic fever.

In Touching Extremes