Evert Brettschneider electric and acoustic guitars
Aloys Kott electric and acoustic basses
Peter Eisold drums, percussion
Recorded October 1980 at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg
Engineer: Martin Wieland
Produced by Thomas Stöwsand
Musik was the second effort by the Contact Trio for ECM’s sister JAPO label. Inspired by the atmospheric developments of Wolfgang Dauner (see, for example, Output) and heavily invested in the softening distinctions between rock and jazz, the trio had by now perfected its rhizomatic sound in what was to be its final record. Here Peter Eisold takes the place of drummer Michael Jüllich, and the result is a truly aerobic experience.
The echoing guitar of “Air Lines” opens the session by straddling extremes of register and sharpness, and starts a snowball rolling down the bass’s equally resonant hill. Strangely, the ball doesn’t pick up speed for some time, but paces itself in a journey of textured reflection, tracing from each icy particle a possible trajectory of flight. Eisold’s unique percussive language is thus apparent. And then: traction as the rhythm section hurls the guitar to tell its story in anticipation of an untimely end.
Muscles and tendons glow with flexion in “String Games.” Acoustic in hand, Brettschneider reflects on a past in which the only truth was a broken mirror. There is a feeling of dedication here, a deference to time at large for providing this opportunity to luxuriate in the creation of music. Like the first, this track hooks on to something more propulsive in the final minutes, only now running through the backstreets of a small Spanish town, chasing after a melody.
“Daddy Longleg” is an invigorating turn featuring two overdubbed electric guitars and electric basses, each relaying torch light in palpitating dialogue with the other. Eisold again shines with colorful cymbal work that evokes nocturnal footfalls in the walls.
From its title alone, “Simple Symphony” would seem to be an allusion to Britten’s work of the same name. The music provides an entirely different experience. From Brettschneider’s throbbing beats and elastic chording to the groovy trio unity achieved thereafter, it climbs every tree in its way like a squirrel on a mission. The rhythm section positively shines in gorgeous geometries, sliding from one signature to the next with the ease and comfort of a fountain pen.
The spine gets is due attention in “Silence,” which curves in a protracted arch. Stained guitar and arco bass lead into a plunking dream of youthful flexibility, edging a ghost town with its metal detector until it finds two rusted guns from a shootout, long forgotten…
Chest and arms
“Elbow Dance” completes this full-body workout with a slog through cement that finds resolution and strange comfort in the hardening.
At the risk of belaboring all of this analogizing, Musik is an intensely physical record. Not only in the sense that it feels weighted and animate, but also for its permeable compositions. Each is a thoughtful assemblage of lines that no longer has need for points of origin. Together, these lines leave the listener with a lasting meta-statement of harmless transgression.
A gem in ECM’s apocryphal bin.