Den Reiz, der bei "Shadowscores" (CS 368) aus dem Scheinwiderspruch des Cellos von ULRIKE BRAND und der Gitarre von OLAF RUPP entstand, den verstärkt bei Traintracks Roadsides Wastelands Debris (CS 410) noch ERNESTO RODRIGUES mit dem Schliff seiner Viola. Dieses eigenartige Stringtrio scheint an der Klangwelt wie mit Sandpapier zu schleifen und zu polieren und dabei soviel Schleifstaub aufzuwirbeln, dass er unter den Fingern, ja auf den Zähnen knirscht. Alle romantischen Erinnerungen der Streicher sind gelöscht und ersetzt durch kakophone Säge- und Schabklänge. Alle Flamencodramatik und Hardcoreturbulenz der Gitarre, die oft genug unter Rupps strammen Fingern arpeggiofurios und hyperflageolettistisch aufwirbelte, ist verwandelt in flächige Mikroton­grundierungen und Reibelaute. Umso markanter plinken dann die Saiten, wenn Rupp sie pickt oder so anschlägt, dass sie wummernd nachhallen. Dazu schnarren Cello oder Bratsche mit rauem Vibrato, wobei auch da Bogenschläge ins Spiel kommen, das wie angesichts von Roadkill und eines wüsten Horizontes einen bedrückten Eindruck macht. Doch heftiges Plonkplink, glissandierende Drones, ratschendes Sägen und schroff schillernde Rasanz schütteln Mad Max-taff den Trübsinn ab. Rupp tremoliert wie ein Propeller, lässt aber die Saiten dann auch ganz zart beben und kristallin oder drahtig plinken zum Huschen und Federn, Kratzen und Klopfen der Bögen, zu langgezogenen Dröhnfäden und knurschiger Stahlwolle. Wenn der Staub sich legt, ist das eine finessenreich prickelnde und kunterbunte Angelegenheit. Rigobert Dittmann (Bad Alchemy)

Ernesto Rodrigues has been releasing an impressive series of small ensemble albums including himself & featuring various overlapping groups of string players (most often including Miguel Mira and/or his son, Guilherme). Although it's another "string trio," at least in the literal sense, Traintracks Roadsides Wastelands Debris, recorded in Berlin last October, is a bit of a departure in that it involved Rodrigues joining the preexisting Brand-Rupp duo, which has apparently been performing together for a while, and already had e.g. an album on Creative Sources, Shadowscores — mentioned here last month while discussing Happy Jazz. (I also mentioned Traintracks Roadsides Wastelands Debris itself in May, when discussing Xenon, another album of strings — highlighting "middle voices" — from Rodrigues.) It also includes guitar, so a string instrument from outside the violin family — together with the increasingly characteristic viola & cello. I first mentioned Olaf Rupp in this space back in December 2011, and at that time, his music-making seemed to be concerned more with rock influences or the "classic" German free style. Ulrike Brand, however, is a classically trained cellist, and Rupp (here on electric) seems to have moved more into the world of non-idiomatic improvisation. In this situation, the remaining aggressiveness in Rupp's style tends to balance the quieter or more atmospheric concerns of Rodrigues to produce a potent mix around Brand. There are moments of less activity, or quieter activity, but lines are constantly intertwining in dense counterpoint. (The album was also mixed by Rupp, which might be why it has more presence than a typical Rodrigues album.) The album notes include an acrostic-poem by Brand on the titles of the four tracks (which, together, are the title of the album), and it's not clear if the poem was the inspiration for the music, or vice versa. The "transit" genre, though, is apparently one I enjoy, and something I tend to associate with US musicians: Transit (featuring Jeff Arnal & Nate Wooley) is one obvious earlier example, but there have been various inspirations from transportation noise used in urban improvising (for obvious reasons), including prominently by Jeff Shurdut. As Traintracks Roadsides Wastelands Debris moves into more of a landscape mode — and it's never all that urban — it's also reminiscent of e.g. Bill Dixon's rather orchestral Tapestries, particularly its opening motorcycle road trip. By the time we come to "Debris," the imagery has more in common with e.g. Talking Trash — although the latter features clarinets & pianos prominently, plus some actual tunes at times. As the "orchestral" comparison suggests — & Shurdut tends to bring something of an orchestral concept to his work as well — there is a miniaturization theme that can be perceived here, and perhaps in Rodrigues's work in general. It's a matter of conjuring the smallest details, perhaps from each of one's four strings individually (per Scelsi), and building a bigger interaction, a basic technique of individual polyphonic articulation at which all three musicians excel here. There is thus almost constant exchange & transformation back & forth, sounds becoming more & less, ebbing & flowing, amidst a wonderful sense of detail & counterpoint. It's the concentration involved in such an approach, the basic smallness of the strings as individualized sounding agents, that differentiates it from those of the larger ensembles, such that every correspondence or timbral shift becomes charged, even (especially) as it fades. In this, e.g. the occasional ringing guitar chord can yield a comforting sense of familiarity amidst ongoing dissonance & desolation. (The sort of "industrial rattle" of e.g. Anomonous is thus turned on its head, but I'm once again reminded of comparisons from New York.) The result is engrossing, to the point that one starts to hear the illusion of breath amidst scraping mutes, strange static, etc. Of course, I'm also someone who's come to value writing (& especially editing) while riding public transit, so maybe this is my scene, so to speak. In another sense, it's the basic similarity of instrumental resources here, the constant crossing of ranges, that conditions the quasi-Scelsian polyphonic interaction & resulting resonance that I end up finding so engrossing: There is much more than transportation being conjured. 12 June 2017. Todd McComb's Jazz Thoughts

A great set of four improvisations from a string trio of viola, cello and guitar. The opening salvo here is a grand plunge downward, en masse. It's an arresting start which grabs your attention and serves as a pointer. We're going down to ground level to investigate the waysides, the places generally ignored.
The music here skirts the edges of the conventional (though that appellation is becoming ever more meaningless), and accrues weight by compiling a catalogue of detritus. The musicians may flirt with chordal progression or romantic imagery, but then veer off to investigate the grain of a bow hair, the ridges on a guitar string. Very often they go way beyond sounds usually associated with these instruments, constructing conglomerates of wooden flutes or the distant chug of a locomotive. Buzzes and bell-like harmonics sit amidst quiet distorted clangs for a minute, then some soft fumbling over in the corner catches your ear. Piled up arpeggios dissolve into squeaky harmonics or quiet sawing.
Each of these four pieces (the four words of the title) progresses "naturally" it seems, with no superfluous energy or forced point of view. A tangle of quick playing occasionally evolves out of nowhere. A wealth of detail invites careful attention, and humor is never far from view. Is that a bass drum I hear? Jeph Jerman (The Squid’s Ear)

Three string improvisers--Ulrike Brand on cello, Ernesto Rodrigues on viola, and Olaf Rupp on electric guitar--approach their instruments from all angles excepting the most traditional ones, from scraping and granulating to creating resonant sonic environments, an apt reflection of a journeying musician, enhanced by text and images in the CD package. (Squidco)