SOG cs777









This release captures Lina Allemano (trumpet), Uwe Oberg (piano), Matthias Bauer (double bass) and Rudi Fischerlehner (drums & percussion) 2 days after they played at Kühlspot. It’s the third time they played together, at least according to Bauer’s website. But it doesn’t show. They sound like a working band with a strong rapport between all the players. By that, I mean that the interaction and responses to what each musician hears are excellent. All titles relate to nature’s way of dealing with water: whirlpool or maelstrom (from the Dutch maalstroom).
Damn, my reviews are relatively short, but I lack the words for this one. The longest track is just short of half an hour. The shortest is just under two minutes long. The other two are seventeen and ten minutes long—and never a dull moment. The musicians create a maelstrom, or sometimes a trickle of water but always controlled and relatively tonal. Allemano whips up beautiful long lines or short fanfarelike intervals of fourths. I’m really impressed by this release. Maybe the best word to describe this music is chamber music jazz. Delicate, restless at times and in other instances calm as dead water, but only for a moment, and bristling with ideas, however fleeting they may be. Be distracted, and it’s gone. What I mean is that you have to listen intently to catch the tiniest details and hear the musicians respond to each other. Kudos to the recording engineer Tito Knapp, Fischerlehner, who did the mixing and Olaf Rupp for the mastering. It all sounds crisp and lively. All the details can be heard distinctly. Get this one immediately! Mark Daelmans-Sikkel (Vital Weekly)

Hier stülpt sich ein Déjà vue übers Déjà entendu. Die Entstehung von Schorle Scholkempers Bandfoto, das die CD illustriert, war das erste, was wir erblickten, als wir am 15.4. etwas zu früh ins Weikersheimer w71 platzten. Vom dortigen famosen Konzert, dem erst dritten des deutsch-kanadischen NowJazz-Quartetts SOG, habe ich berichtet (BA 119). Das hier ist der Mitschnitt vom 24.8.2022, ihrem First Date in der Berliner Zentrifuge, mit 'El Remolino', 'Il Vortice', 'Le Tourbillon' und 'Malstrom' als Taufpaten. Und der Selbstironie von Katrin Plav?aks Covergemälde 'Fieser Strudel'. Es geht mir aber nicht darum, wievel w71-Erinnerungen da aufgefrischt werden, sondern wie SOG-haft nun das einen am Ohr mitzieht. Fischerlehners unermüdlich klappernder, scharrender, tapsender Schnickschnack zur von Bauers Pizzicato und Obergs wuseligem Arpeggio stürmisch vorangetriebenen Rasanz, dem die Trompeterin aus Toronto mit halb gestopftem Schnarren und Schmettern die Schaumkronen aufsetzt. Der Drang flaut ab für kuriose, tröpfelige, klirrende Querschläge, launige Oberg-Eskapaden, knarzige und bebende Bassgeräusche und nun fast ganz verstopfte Tröt- und Schmauchlaute. Doch die geräuschverliebte Drift in die Peripherie hat ihren eigenen Reiz im klimpernden, jaulig 'geigenden', schräg tutenden, prickelig pressenden Auskosten phantastischer Ecken und Macken des Bruitoversums. Aus dem Allemano, Fischerlehners flickernder, knatternder Hagel, Obergs ostinate, harfige, klimbimbernde Schüttung und Bauers sägender Sog wieder in die Strömung zurücksteuern. Dem großen spanischen Strudel folgt, von melancholisch bis turbulent, der italienische, mit spuckigem und aufbegehrendem Horn, Clownslatschen- und Rappelbeats, pickendem, kapriziös quirlendem Piano, brummelndem Bass. Der Tourbillon schürt die Spannung wieder bruitophil mit jaulig und krümelig agil umwirbeltem schlabberndem, quäkendem Tut- und Blas-Spaß und dezidierten Oberg-Kapriolen, blechern und muschelig durchgerüttelt, mit versonnenem Bass lyrisch reduziert, durch zirpige Silberfolie schnarrend und ratschend, klirrend wieder verdichtet. Statt dieser polymorphen Phantasterei dreht sich, typisch deutsch, 'Mahlstrom' kurz und besorgt um sich selbst. SOGs Humor hat definitiv Hand und Fuß, und Allemano besiegelt das mit tausend Küssen. Rigobert Dittmann (Bad Alchemy)

SOG is a quartet by trumpeter Lina Allemano, bassist Matthias Bauer, percussionist Rudi Fischerlehner and pianist Uwe Oberg - in other words: three excellent members of the Berlin Echtzeit cosmos are augmented by the most prominent musician of the very lively Wiesbaden scene (Oberg). What is more, SOG is the German word for “eddying“ or “maelstrom“ and this is exactly what the quartet’s music is like. The four pieces “El Remolino“, “Il Vortice“, Le Tourbillon“ and “Malstrom“ all mean the same thing in different languages. This is why at least the three major pieces are structured alike (“Malstrom“ is only a very short encore). As a listener there’s no way to escape the magic, the energy and the sheer beauty this music develops over the course of almost 60 minutes.
“El Remolino“, the opening track, is the perfect example of the band’s idea for this project. It’s reminiscent of a typical Cecil Taylor piece from the 2000s. Before the wind instrument kicks in, the rhythm section leads up to it. Oberg uses delicate Taylor-like clusters, Fischerlehner plays the Tony Oxley/Paul Lovens part with strong emphasis on snare, cymbals and extended materials, Bauer drives forward unobtrusively, yet uncompromisingly. When Allemano’s trumpet finally begins, it blends smoothly into this structure, its tone pointed and clear. Here and there she sounds like a military trumpeter in a free jazz band. But the fact that the band has its own concept becomes clear already in the duel between Oberg and her, because here the pianist deviates from any Taylorian influences and goes his own way. If the listeners think they might be able to focus less, the music pulls them back in - as in a maelstrom. Out of nowhere the sound of Allemano’s trumpet changes, one thinks she literally tears the notes apart. Oberg responds with prepared sounds reminiscent of a spinet. From this moment on, both instruments float feather-light above the bass and drums, and Bauer and Fischerlehner realize that they only have to be supportive here. In these first ten minutes the piece is as if from a single mould, it’s a prime example of European free jazz - only to disintegrate completely (which it does not, of course)! The drums lose their pulse, the same goes for the bass. The trumpet meanders in nowhere, the piano sets very sporadic notes. Bass and drums scratch around on their instruments. It seems as if the musicians leer at each other to see who will lead the improvisation back to the beginning. In the end, it’s all of them together, through intensity and volume. Powerful chords, sharp, bowed bass lines and pointed trumpet runs are all it takes. Fischerlehner, interestingly, stays completely out of it here, which adds to the energy level. By the end of the piece, the band is actually back to free jazz, but with different timbres. Fischerlehner’s drums are darker, more driving (this is where it comes into play that he’s also at home in the rock realm), Oberg plays flashy, high notes, while Bauer and Allemano again try to tear the piece apart sonically. In terms of structure and energy control, “El Remolino“ is certainly one of the best pieces I’ve heard this year, and “Il Vortice“ and “Le Tourbillon“ are in no way inferior to it.
All in all, SOG is a great band and a great album. Whenever I come across Uwe Oberg, I think that I constantly underestimate his way of playing, the same goes for Matthias Bauer (I have to make amends here). Then again, I’m a big fan of Rudi Fischerlehner, whose restrained but incredibly versatile style of playing has always fascinated me. However, what Lina Allemano does on this album, is outstanding. The way she plays with varied sound colours and textures makes the difference that this album is not just very good, but outstanding. Martin Schray (The Free Jazz Collective)

The opening track on this quartet release on Portuguese label Creative Sources, featuring Line Allemano, trumpet, Uwe Oberg, piano, Matthias Bauer, double bass and Rudi Fischerlehner, drums and percussion, is a marathon piece at over 25 minutes that sets the tone for this hard and fast improvising band. This is music that rushes out of the gate and gallops and turns corners in a fleet, graceful and powerful manner.
Known in some circles as "Lina Allemano's Berlin quartet," this group is rather a collective endeavor, and the four tracks here evince a blending of compositional voices rather than the articulation of the vision of a leader, unlike Allemano's Toronto quartet (Lina Allemano Four), wherein most of the compositions come from the trumpeter's pen and color the sound, despite the rich idiosyncratic talents in that group.
Strangely and significantly, all four pieces in this release have the same title, but in different languages ("El Remolino," "Il Vortice," "Le Tourbillon," "Malstrom") all meaning the same thing: The Vortex. The titles suggest the swirling sounds and ideas that make up each piece in one way or another, a swirling of sonic gestures made up of particles of music from the European traditions colored by contemporary practice with extended techniques and what has often been called "energy music."
The result is nearly a full hour of music of varying moods, but all having the idea of flow, of momentum, of the launching of four individual voices into one expression, which is what makes a band a band....a unified group sound made up of disparate elements, but cohering and becoming one.
The name of the album is open to interpretation, as SOG can stand for Special Operations Group, as it does in a military context, but also implies something soaked, and several other acronyms have been coined with these letters. I think the military allusion is most apt here, as these are indeed Special Forces at work together in a whirlwind fashion, delivering a concerted punch of sonic power. Paul Serralheiro (The Squid’s Ear)