Lilienweiss: Seasons

Dokuro: The Black Room

New neo-classical settings for clarinet, guitar, bass, piano, and electronics by Lilienweiss duo Thorsten Scheerer and Dorothea Herrmann, this time an EP of four parts comprising the complete Seasons Cycle. The work is scheduled to be performed as a world premiere in Darmstadt , Germany on September 26th, 2008 during the “Lange Nacht der Musen” (“Long Night of the Muses”), an annual event where cultural institutions (galleries, museums, etc.) stay open all night. A loose and spontaneous feel colours the EP's four electroacoustic settings though they're likely anything but pure improvisations. As on previous releases, Lilienweiss's music unfolds unhurriedly but with a confident ease where ample space is allowed for the guitar and clarinet to assert their individual voices. “Frühling” (Springtime) pairs intertwining layers of clarinets with electronic flourishes, deep piano rumbles, and jagged guitar interjections while on “34 Grad” (34 Degrees) and “Herbsttage” (Autumn Days), Scheerer's atonal guitar shards keep the group's piano-and-clarinet nachtmusik from sounding too purely classical. Lilienweiss's music isn't easy listening—to be frank, it's generally more gloomy than joyous—but it's definitely distinctive.

Dokuro, which unites electroacoustic improvisers Agnes Szelag and The Norman Conquest, kicks up some serious feral dust in The Black Room. Though four of the EP's five pieces are short, brief running times don't prevent the pair from plunging into viral, feedback-infested pools where electronics and cello meld into feedback-drenched vortices. Much of the material is heavily-distorted: “The Ghost Goes West” sputters like some writhing machine set to implode; “Shadow of the Cat” drowns in an annihilating storm of feedback and rippling noise; and “Kuroneko” layers violent howls over an anchoring drum pattern. The cello makes its first recognizable appearance in the fourth song “Shikoku” which says something about how far the duo pushes its sound manipulations. The moment doesn't last long, however, as the instrument quickly vanishes within a tribal storm of anguished yelps and throbbing rhythms. At nine minutes, the apocalyptic dirge “October Moon” allows Dokuro ample room to maneuver and stretch out. In this fully-realized set-piece, Szelag's voice and distorted cello moan over a curdling tempo while shards of razor-sharp tones crawl across a wasteland of incinerated ruins. Like Lilienweiss's, Dokuro's sound may not be conventionally "pretty" but it's undoubtedly powerful.

November 2008