Mycelial Studies cs594









Not only do my musical interests tend toward smaller ensembles, but I enjoy broadly contrapuntal articulations in which a variety of musical activity occurs simultaneously, including (potentially structural) explorations of timbral relations as well. The latter involves an even greater web of musical connections & correspondences than traditional counterpoint, which accommodated only discrete notes, i.e. not complex sounds blending into each other. In addition to an "erector set" image of distinct lines spanning spaces then, one might imagine bends, blends & folds through which combinations of sounds can relate thickly in various ways.... And Ernesto Rodrigues is one of the most prolific musicians working in & through such an environment, forging a post-serial, post-concrète, sometimes ambient idiom that often involves ("lowercase") restraint & quiet. The latter is not always the case, however, and much of Rodrigues' recent music has had an aggressive presence, including (often) on the recent & massive double album Mycelial Studies with Guilherme Rodrigues & Udo Schindler. The two discs, each over an hour, were recorded on consecutive dates in Munich in June 2018, and involve Schindler on a relatively limited (for him anyway) set of horns, i.e. bass & contrabass clarinet, soprano saxophone & cornet. I'd actually mentioned this double album, or at least its first disc (to which Schindler apparently refers in his remarks), when discussing Schindler's trio album (likewise with two string players) Rhizome in May (where I also noted e.g. Schindler's recent Hillside Talks with Jaap Blonk): Whereas the mycelial & rhizomatic images — the latter especially due to Deleuze & Guattari, and the former also continuing an orientation on biological imagery for Rodrigues — suggest similar structural concerns, Rhizome is actually the "smoother" album, with calmly wandering drones & an almost minimalist orientation behind its sometimes lively activity. (One might perceive long spans, say.) In contrast, Mycelial Studies tends to focus on close exchange of musical figures, and moves rapidly through various threads of sonic combination & connection: Timbral correspondences tend to mirror & imitate the finest grains of articulation, such that not only are instrument identities often blurred, but the smallest slur can lead into a fully motivic exchange.... In fact, the two albums making up Mycelial Studies are actually rather different, with the first ("arToxin") seeming more "classical" (or perhaps classic jazz) in inspiration, recalling e.g. K'Ampokol Che K'Aay & its broadly ranging & detailed counterpoint around clarinet: Still, instruments do blend via extended technique, and the interaction can be quite assertive. As the "studies" title suggests (& I had applied the term myself to some of Schindler's work in the past), it can seem as though all manner of transformations are employed, with strings above and/or below the various horns, often yielding an immersive feel (that might seem alien to this description). It's also a very long album beginning, perhaps paradoxically, by establishing its sense of space (& do recall Schindler's background in architecture here), and going on to involve e.g. horn calls over (string) "landscapes" whose shifting moods can seem almost orchestral in spite of the small forces. The second album ("Salon") seems even less traditional, or at least less identifiable or stable in its inspirations, evoking not only more of the later "free jazz" vibe, but almost an in-your-face (punk?) quality at times: Presumably building on interactions developed the previous evening, Salon is thus more personal & even radical or elemental: Timbral overlapping & articulations are that much more confounding, but the overall sound can also be more raucous & aggressive. And the long first track already displays a wide variety of interactions & transformations across a broad space itself, beginning from some quiet (instrumental) whistling, and moving into assertive & sometimes almost melodic counterpoint, industrial & environmental noises, etc. (The "elemental" quality might recall the similarly constituted Baloni trio at times, and e.g. Fremdenzimmer, albeit there including compositions on some tracks....) It's thus a very dynamic album — intimidating even, with much to digest, and rarely calm — spanning shearing difference tones, percussive scratchings, growling raspberries, various glissandi, etc. It does continue to suggest "studies," however, and so although a sort of sanctifying quality emerges, these sets continue to seem (as has been typical of Schindler) more about radicalizing image & form than about broader or sustaining concepts of musical use per se.... (Perhaps the most similar album — to Salon — is actually Skullmarks, there with a very different musical economy including more players & explicit electronics.... That album actually involves more concrete spiritual prompts, but also projects a similar resulting density & even employs similar resulting sounds.) Mycelial Studies also names the trio as "S2R" on the label, and so perhaps there will be more to come after these already quite substantial series of studies: Despite Schindler's own very prolific production, and frequent appearances on Creative Sources, this does also appear to be his first direct musical collaboration with (either) Rodrigues. Todd McComb's Jazz Thoughts

Sometimes the legendary abundance of Creative Sources releases can be a double-edged sword. While it does warrant the awareness of diverse lexicons introduced by artists of varying renown and extraction, the risk is also high of overlooking precious stones amidst the mass. Mycelial Studies – staged on June 28 and 29, 2018 in Munich by Udo Schindler (bass clarinet, soprano saxophone and cornet), Ernesto Rodrigues (viola) and Guilherme Rodrigues (cello) – potentially belongs in that category. The concerts are now immortalized on a 2-CD set comprising about 130 minutes of music that appears surrounded by a halo of importance (for lack of a better word).

The latter trait is suggested by several factors. To begin with, Schindler and the Rodrigueses exude rigorousness, reflected in each fragment of what they play. The trio acts as seriously as a speechless gathering of monks prior to a ritual. The most crucial aspect in such a typology of performance is the capacity of dissecting the timbral grain to collect every penny of substance and gravity. The inquisitive listener perceives individual notes, the superimpositions and permutations, and – naturally – the resulting impulsive counterpoint. But even in the parts where the propagations of tones and phrases promotes severe intricacy, the original silence from which everything comes is always discernible. You can feel the molecules in the air before they start to vibrate after the triggering gesture.

Having said that, there are moments that literally verge on dramatic, the parallelism of urgencies pushing the interplay towards areas of (still elegant) pre-explosiveness. Three men dance barefoot in between strident clusters, serpentine lines, sharp harmonics. In total control of dynamics and pigmentations, their ears are perennially perked up to catch the infinitesimal motion. The marriage of chronic arrhythmia and imperturbable atonality symbolizes the sort of equality/equanimity only achievable through a dispassionate analysis of the problems presented by a conversation. However, where regular folks inevitably fall – namely, placing the ego firmly in charge in a growingly pointless chit-chat – musicians at this level of perception keep indicating methods for fortifying a healthy rationalism, without forgetting the necessary visionary hues. Massimo Ricci (Touching Extremes)


Die Mycelial Studies (CS 594, 2xCD) von UDO SCHINDLER mit ERNESTO & GUILHERME RODRIGUES, kurz S2R, führen zu Pilzen und deren Myzel. Eingefangen ist Schindlers Zu-sammenklang mit der Viola und dem Cello von Vater und Sohn am 28. & 29.06.2018 im arToxin München und beim 85. Salon für Klang + Kunst in Krailling, wobei er seinen Klang-fächer aus Bassklarinette, Sopranosax und Kornett zuhause noch vertiefte mit Kontrabass-klarinette. Die Portugiesen zeigen sich anfangs ganz introspektiv, mit schneemann¬lyrischem Geflimmer. Was Bocksprünge und knarrende, surrende Schraffuren nicht aus¬schließt. Schindler gibt sich dazu als Pilzkopf, der die Bassklarinette als Hookah schmaucht und helle Rauchringe bläst. Was wiederum erregte Turbulenzen mit einschließt, ein psy¬chedelisches Schillern, kurvenreiche Hummelflüge durch romantisches Zwielicht, zirpen¬de Heimlichtuerei, disharmonische Verwerfungen. Capriccios aus Pizzicato und bizarrem Flageolett in der Skala von Pierrots groteskem Riesenbogen bis Erich Zann, mit windschie¬fem Soprano über elegischen Reminiszensen. Die Machenschaften sind obskur genug, um unheimlich zu wirken, die Striche dissonant genug, um selbst das Licht zu krümmen. Hys¬terisch aufschrillend wird an den Stühlen gesägt, auf denen sie sitzen. Ab¬gründige Bass¬schübe begehren zu filigranem Stricknadelgefiesel und Col-legno-Hieben auf bis in kirren¬des Altissimo. Schindler röhrt, stringverschleiert, wie mit Didgeridoo oder verweht ins Tonlose. Ge¬züllte und zirpenden Kornettismen arve-henriksen hinter zartem Weben und Tüpfeln. Heftiger Sporenauswurf oder so¬norer O-Ton kontrastieren mit weiteren bruitisti¬schen Kürzeln. Warum das extented nennen, wenn es phantastisch ist, katzenjämmerlich, fingerbeerentänzerisch, psilocybin? Dem unfassbar toxinen Brainstorm folgt im Salon so¬gar noch ein Surplus. Mit quäkigem und knarzigem, insgesamt noch aufgekratzter irrlich¬terndem Gusto. Die Streicher sind, warm geworden, am zweiten Tag zu ausgelasseneren Streichen aufgelegt, während Schindler als schriller Triller oder verholzter Zunder¬schwamm, als Satans-Röhrling und des Teufels Schnupftabak das myzeliale Spektrum weit über das bloß Kulinarische hinaus vernichtungssüchtig ausreizkert. Rigobert Dittmann (Bad Alchemy)

Two complete live performances in Munich at Galerie arToxin, and at Udo Schindler's Salon fur Klang + Kunst Krailing in 2018, with Schindler on bass clarinet, soprano saxophone and cornet, Ernesto Rodrigues on viola, and Guilherme Rodrigues on cello, balancing active and introspective dialog of advanced harmonics, (a)rhythmic approaches, and extraordinary technique. The Squid’s Ear