Reviews by Massimo Ricci

The A23H chronicle


ALFRED 23 HARTH - Micro-saxo-phone (Laubhuette)

Unbelievably, "Micro-saxo-phone" is only the second solo album in this artist's lengthy career. That's right - the first was "Plan Eden", and in that LP we could already find the germs of what Alfred Harth presents here, with particular reference to electronically-enhanced reeds. This CD's title has to do with the Frankfurter's renewed interest with microtones, a constant object of research and exploration in recent times. A sample of the advanced techniques utilized (which include playing parts of the machines with a violin bow, modifying the sound through a Kaoss Pad and applying contact microphones wherever an interesting nuance can be captured) was also present in "Test for Tokyo", a track from the 2005 release "NUN". Now A23H uses these sonic weapons pretty extensively, also in group settings - his command of noisy harmonics and altered drones with 7K Oaks, for example, adds a great deal of colours to that ensemble's palette.
The instrumentation for this particular occasion comprises tenor and baritone saxophones, bass clarinet and all the above mentioned devices. This record should probably appeal to the ones who love having their hair combed by the most spurious frequencies and unclassifiable emissions that a reed instrument might produce, all the while remaining within the confines of EAI. Music that fans of labels like Creative Sources and L'Innomable and improvisers such as Birgit Ulher, Nate Wooley, Sabine Vogel, Alessandro Bosetti, should appreciate an awful lot. The labial & lingual factor remains the solid basis for the large part of the pieces, and even the clattering pressure on the keys finds a way to get utterly modified by a knowledgeable processing method. In addition, this meditative rebel doesn't close windows to melody (contrarily to the tendencies of today's "silent sainthood"), which he proceeds to dismantle whenever possible. The profoundly blowing man mineralizes minimal squeals and upper partials in perplexing fashion, following the action with relaxed thematic fragments subsequently catapulted in the higher galaxies of musical quick-sightedness, alimenting modern versions of sci-fi deliria with combustible gases ready to be put on fire during acrid instant compositions. Five of the eighteen tracks were recorded without editing or effects, but in that case too Mr. 23 manages to extract longitudinal exhalations and sudden swoops, the revivification of a timbre which had been fragmented in a thousand crumbles only a minute earlier. No question: this is not an easy listening affair, worthy as it is of reiterated visits. Then again, Alfred Harth compromising his artistic view - even just slightly - is among the various things in life that we must not think of suggesting. You don't want to risk your tongue to be cut and fed to a Kaoss Pad, do you?

In Touching Extremes