Doran/Studer/Burri/Magnenat: Musik für zwei Kontrabässe, elektrische Gitarre und Schlagzeug (ECM 1436)

 

Musik für zwei Kontrabässe, elektrische Gitarre und Schlagzeug

Christy Doran guitar
Fredy Studer drums, percussion
Bobby Burri double-bass
Olivier Magnenat double-bass
Recorded May 1990 at Soundville Recording Studios, Lucerne
Engineer: René J. Zingg
Produced by Doran/Studer/Burri/Magnenat

After discovering the unique hand-wringing style of guitarist Christy Doran on Red Twist & Tuned Arrow, I was excited to check out this seemingly neglected record, for which he was again joined by drummer Fredy Studer, only this time, intriguingly enough, with two bassists: Bobby Burri and Olivier Magnenat. Burri is a familiar name in the ECM circuit, having shared stages with Pierre Favre, Manfred Schoof, and Tim Berne, and of course as a member of OM (also with Doran and Studer). Burri, it bears noting, began as a guitarist before switching to bass, and so his attentiveness to Doran’s insectile runs is not without forethought. Magnenat, on the other hand, started his training classically before he began teaching himself to improvise. He also brings previous collaborative experience to this playful little studio session.

I am tempted to compare the starting track, “Siren,” to Marc Johnson’s Bass Desires, sporting as it does a nice dose of fluid guitar and solid drumming. But there is something far different going on behind the light groove exterior. In this sonic sky there are more than just galaxies, but also dead stars whose forms have given up their hold on symmetry long ago. These playful details soon jump into longer stretches of collective energy. Doran’s penchant for long and twisted passages is on full display in “Chemistries I.” With every percussive percolation the colors change. Flavors comingle, finding in newfound combinations an unbridled joy amid spastic picking and hitting from Doran and Studer, (not always) respectively. The band has its day in “Collage,” an unsurprisingly eclectic work featuring lively interchange between basses. “Chemistries II” spreads a paper-thin veneer through which an arco light and sparkling drums shine, seeming to foreshadow the subtler considerations of “Ma Perché.” While this glittering window of interpretation best showcases the band’s improvisatory abilities, the somehow haunting “’Seen A Man About A Dog” offers a tender side—short lived as it is—before the resolute romp of “SCD,” which seems to turn the flames ever higher. Bringing us at last to “Ü 7,” which over a metronomic guitar weaves a mesh of knotted threads and plucking strings.

In spite of its clean production, this album maintains a garage band honesty that still rings refreshingly. Worth seeking out for the curious.

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