Rainer Brüninghaus: Continuum (ECM 1266)

 

Rainer Brüninghaus
Continuum

Rainer Brüninghaus piano, synthesizer
Markus Stockhausen trumpets, fluegelhorn
Fredy Studer drums
Recorded September 1983 at Talent Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher

For his second ECM album as leader, keyboardist Rainer Brüninghaus sidestepped the Eberhard Weber nexus in favor of this unique trio outfit with trumpeter Markus Stockhausen and drummer Fredy Studer, with whom he recorded a few albums on through the early nineties. Though none of the musicianship will have you bowing down in worship, the compositions are the real strength of the album. The lush spread of synths and horns in “Strahlenspur” welcomes us into the sort of affirmative warmth that one would expect from Pat Metheny, while the icy backdrop of “Stille” moves far more contemplatively through Stockhausen’s gently unfurling banners. The title track shuttles Brüninghaus’s fine pianism through a loom of drums in the album’s shortest but most uplifting passage. The airy “Raga Rag” is by contrast, at 11 minutes, the longest. As might an airplane’s white trail, it heals slowly like a cut across the sky’s blue skin. The superb trumpeting sets Brüninghaus off on an ethereal tangent, the heel of every winged step nipped by Studer’s intuitive timekeeping. “Schattenfrei” is another short and sweet dialogue, and leaves us well informed to navigate the final expectorations of “Innerfern” with confidence. Each new turn bleeds into an uncharted solar system. From the saccharine yet uplifting ornamentation of a flanged sequencer to Stockhausen’s careening off into the farthest reaches of the universe, it is a transcendent way to end things.

Brüninghaus’s style and ECM’s production values feel like old friends, and in so being welcome us into their friendship in the listening. One need only pick up this thoughtful album to join their circle.

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