Office-(R)6: Mundane Occurrences and Presentations

Improvs can be unpredictable, a case in point Afternoon Tea, the 2000 Ritornell set produced by Oren Ambarchi, Christian Fennesz, Paul Gough, Peter Rehberg, and Keith Rowe. Despite the impressive lineup, the collective music-making underwhelms; with none of the esteemed participants intent on seizing control or imposing direction, the disc's two long and aimless pieces ultimately sound uninspired.

And then there's the Amsterdam-based Office-R(6), a sextet comprised of Koen Nutters (bass), Robert van Heumen (laptop), Jeff Carey (laptop), Sakir Oguz Buyukberber (bass clarinet), Dirk Bruinsma (soprano, baritone sax), and Morten Olsen (percussion) whose energized interplay is never anything less than engrossing. Drawing upon electronic music, noise, jazz, and contemporary music traditions, the players attack their gnotty electroacoustic improvisations with rabid ferocity. The disc's purposeful, stop-start interplay is permeated by perpetual flux and invention with electronic sputter, bass clarinet growls, bowed scrapes, saxophone honks, and sliced voice samples endlessly circling around and colliding with one another. Sounds converge at some moments before splintering off into multiple directions the next. Mundane Occurrences and Presentations at times resembles the kind of challenging music Luciano Berio might be creating were he alive today and in his composing prime.

March 2006