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XXXX (vinyl)

Wollny - Parisien – Lefebvre - Lillinger

XXXX (vinyl)

Format: LP 12inch
Label: ACT music
UPC: 0614427992413
Catnr: ACTLP 99241
Release date: 30 April 2021
Buy at PlatoMania
1 LP 12inch
Buy at PlatoMania
 
Label
ACT music
UPC
0614427992413
Catalogue number
ACTLP 99241
Release date
30 April 2021
Album
Artist(s)
Composer(s)
EN

About the album

eXplore
This story begins with just one sound, originating in the place which Berlin jazz people think of as their living room, the A-Trane. Back in December 2019, the club was host to four leading figures in today’s improvised music scene, who turned this cozy space into their blank canvas, their research lab. In eight sets over four nights, piano phenomenon Michael Wollny, re-inventor of the soprano saxophone Emile Parisien, electric bass icon Tim Lefebvre, and that free spirit of the drum kit Christian Lillinger were given free rein. They had agreed beforehand, incidentally, that nothing should be composed, arranged or pre-planned.

eXpand
As a result, the music we hear doesn’t fit into any category. We’re in uncharted territory, so a good way to capture its essence might be to break it down into its four component parts. First there’s Michael Wollny, here for the very first time playing only on electronic keyboard instruments. He creates a characterful world of retrofuturistic sounds that is very much his own. We find the occasional nod to early Jean-Michel Jarre, references to science fiction and horror movies, and also vivid memories of the sounds of avantgarde Krautrock: "Can" and Irmin Schmidt and Klaus Schulze. As for Tim Lefebvre, here is a musician who has plied his very great craft with stars such as David Bowie, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, John Mayer, Knower, Steely Dan, Elvis Costello and Wayne Krantz. Here he is like a rock in a tempestuous sea. He propels the music forward with a combination of bass and effects. He builds structures and tames unruly elements. The way he lays down a groove is overwhelming. As a counterbalance we find the explosive yet highly sensitive playing of drummer Christian Lillinger. He stacks layer upon layer of rhythms and textures. And the melodic lines of Emile Parisien on soprano saxophone always have an astonishing springy inventiveness. Such is Parisien’s latent energy, it seems as if at any moment he could suddenly become airborne.

eXploit
It takes a particular kind of musician to step forward willingly into a context like this with no fall-back or safety net. Before they actually met, the four musicians had been well aware of the risks. Each of them knew how different the others’ musical vocabularies and heritages were. And there was indeed a kind of tension at the start, which took about a quarter of an hour to subside. What took its place, however, was a collective sense of raised consciousness. The players’ eager curiosity as to what the next turn, the next impulse, the next push will be is palpable to the listener. One can sense the tension between the urge to construct forms, lines, grooves, harmonies, textures, versus the illicit joy of tearing such fragile structures apart before they have even been heard. There are beats and patterns from the 90s, 80s and 70s, all coalescing into cinematic bacchanalia of sound. These four master improvisers and composers all have the urge to rewrite the rules of their musical world – and to do so in real time.

eXterminate
And the story continues. The live sets by the musicians and their equipment produce a wealth of juxtapositions, fascinating collages of instrumental sounds. And in total, the recordings from the A-Trane result in at least eight hours of music. A decision is taken to distil these recordings into just one album that will be more than simply a document of the series of live concerts. Tim Lefebvre has the spark of an idea, and in February 2020, he and Michael Wollny meet producer and sound engineer Jason Kingsland in Atlanta. Kingsland has a background not just of working with renowned indie rock and pop artists, but also a passion for experimentation and improvisation. So the task becomes one of capturing the intoxication and the euphoria of these four Berlin nights, and also to take the abundance of possibilities and whittle them down to a cohesive album. Gradually, over several days and nights, the material is reduced, and a distillate consisting of ten surprisingly succinct tracks emerges. But here’s the paradox: this is a live recording which also sounds like a studio album… and yet every note in it was improvised at the club. What emerges here is an album full of joy, emotion, humour and an almost childlike, naïve pleasure in "playing". And it also presents a new trans-Atlantic group which is absolutely “sui generis” – a quartet which is one of its kind in the world right now.

Artist(s)

Michael Wollny (piano)

Michael Wollny, born in 1978 in Schweinfurt, internationally successful jazz pianist, music inventor, unconventional thinker, popular figure. Nobody plays piano like him. His trademark: the unpredictable, the quest for the never-before-heard, the courage to devote himself to the moment, to make the unforeseen sound self-evident. His desire to keep reinventing himself, both in terms of sound and composition; that is what makes him a “consummate piano maestro” (FAZ) and “the biggest (jazz) musician personality that Germany has produced since Albert Mangelsdorff” (Hamburger Abendblatt). 'As an improviser, you often find that it‘s not the compositions themselves you‘re playing, but your own memories of them. And as these memories come back to you in the moment, they assert their continuing existence in the here...
more
Michael Wollny, born in 1978 in Schweinfurt, internationally successful jazz pianist, music inventor, unconventional thinker, popular figure. Nobody plays piano like him. His trademark: the unpredictable, the quest for the never-before-heard, the courage to devote himself to the moment, to make the unforeseen sound self-evident. His desire to keep reinventing himself, both in terms of sound and composition; that is what makes him a “consummate piano maestro” (FAZ) and “the biggest (jazz) musician personality that Germany has produced since Albert Mangelsdorff” (Hamburger Abendblatt).

"As an improviser, you often find that it‘s not the compositions themselves you‘re playing, but your own memories of them. And as these memories come back to you in the moment, they assert their continuing existence in the here and now," says pianist/composer Michael Wollny. In other words, songs are like ghosts. Wollny‘s new album "Ghosts" is a gathering of some of the ghosts that regularly haunt him. Typically for Wollny, they range from classics like Franz Schubert's "Erlkönig" to jazz standards, film music, songs with a certain fragility by Nick Cave, say, or the band Timber Timbre, and also include his own darkly evocative original compositions.

In addition to Michael Wollny‘s leanings towards scary fantasy, the idea of "hauntology" is an important one for him. This term, which has been a looming presence in debates about pop music for some time, awakens memories of a distant past: forgotten, ghostly and spectral sounds. Wollny: "This perspective, these sounds and not least the term itself have preoccupied me in the past few months – and those reflections have led to the idea of producing a piano trio album dealing with the subject." A ghost album, then, that ventures into the depths of conscious and unconscious memory, sifts through stories originating in the past and which cast shadows on the present. This is a story of the friendly ghosts which surround us...but also of some evil spirits which we thought would never return.

The line-up to be heard on "Ghosts" is a direct follow-up from "Weltentraum", an album which now clearly stands as a cornerstone in Wollny's discography, since it established his reputation as an artist "who can turn every conceivable piece of music into an experience to take your breath away" (Die Zeit). American bassist Tim Lefebvre‘s very particular sound and vibe are to be heard on albums by David Bowie, Wayne Krantz and Elvis Costello. Wollny‘s most recent adventure alongside him was the internationally acclaimed project "XXXX". Wollny says: "When you work with Tim, you're not just working with one of the world's top bass players - Tim always has a foot in the world of sound processing, and is constantly expanding his electronic tool-kit. In addition to that, he creates phenomenal clarity in music and in overall sound, which has an unbelievable effect: it gives a shape and an organisation to the music without ever restricting you."

Wollny has been playing with drummer Eric Schaefer for almost 20 years. Like Lefebvre, he is also a complete original, a musician with an almost orchestral approach to sound, an unmistakable sense of groove and impressive individuality."The three of us are aligned in a special , inexplicable way. It‘s hard to describe but the effect is massive," says Wollny. "Last but not least, we are connected by the long time we have spent together. As a trio we have a specific sound, and we are now developing that in a wholly new direction." On "Ghosts", the trio has created a sound in the specific tradition of "Southern Gothic": deep, earthy, full of vibrating, rattling low-tuned strings and drumheads, evoking memories of clapped-out guitar amps, distorted cones of speakers cones. The atmosphere here is oppressively hot, the air heavy with dust.

Before "Ghosts" was actually recorded, another trio - Michael Wollny and the two co-producers Andreas Brandis and Guy Sternberg- convened. Brandis, who had already been heavily involved in the concept of "XXXX", brought to the table the concept of an album of songs, with the right people involved. Sternberg - he, as sound engineer, and Wollny had created the sound world of "Wunderkammer", which was to serve as the point of departure for this new album. Wollny says: "Even before the setlist for the album was fixed, I had a very clear sound in mind, which we discussed extensively with Guy and Andreas beforehand." The trio inhabits an acoustic space where nothing is superfluous or goes to waste: the long-dying resonance from a cymbal, drum or plucked string, or a sound from a reverberant surface, all are somehow there in the air. And sometimes all that remains is an acoustic or an electronic echo, a sound that hovers and acquires its own mysterious and spectral existence.

All the tracks on the album have one thing in common: each is a snapshot in the life of an individual song. Wollny: "Especially in jazz, there is never one definitive version of a piece. The standards repertoire always haunts you in the best sense of the word, these songs are never finished, they always resurface." And so, when it comes to classics such as "I Loves You Porgy" and "In a Sentimental Mood", Wollny, Lefebvre and Schaefer‘s primary point of reference is not the original compositions, but versions by Nina Simone and John Coltrane / Duke Ellington. And from a time before jazz standards, there are the spirits that inhabit folk songs and which reappear whenever these songs are sung. As, for example, in the traditional Irish folk song "She Moved Through the Fair", which is almost a prototype for the idea that ghost stories are to a large extent also love stories. As is also the case for "Willow's Song" - a seductive and dangerous love song from the legendary soundtrack for the cinema thriller "Wicker Man", a classic of the Nordic horror genre, as strange as it is frightening. Also related to "grand guignol" and nature: a startlingly vivid arrangement of Franz Schubert's "Erlkönig". In addition, in reference to the sultry "Southern Gothic": "Hand of God" by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, audibly dedicated to Wollny's great mentor, whom he describes as the "Hand of God", Joachim Kühn. And furthermore, "Beat the drum slowly" by the band Timber Timbre, a perennial favourite of Wollny's, and "Ghosts" by David Sylvian - perhaps the clearest representation of the themes that characterise "Ghosts": here we find that melodies and sounds can haunt memories that stay either hidden or repressed, and in a way that is at the same time seductive, touching, mysterious and profound. Two original compositions by Wollny find their place naturally in this cleverly selected programme, which is as heterogeneous as it is coherent: first is Wollny's eponymous contribution to "Hauntology", for him "a ‘song without words‘ which comes from another, past or strange, parallel pop world" and then "Monsters never breathe" with its melody that stretches into infinity and could only ever be sung if it were possible to sing without needing to pause for breath.

"All the songs are living ghosts and long for a living voice" wrote the Irish poet Brendan Kennelly (1936 - 2021) in one of his most famous poems. For Michael Wollny, this line is a cryptic and yet profound insight. It adds an eerie beauty and serves as a motto for his fascination for the magic of songs which this recording represents. When we talk about ghosts, we look into what seems to be the past, and bring back memories from it into our lives. We as listeners can all believe in the "Ghosts" that the Michael Wollny Trio hear. Because we can all hear them and recognise them.


less

Emile Parisien (saxophone)

The French jazz scene has a vitality, an originality and a do-it- all and do-it-anyway mentality about it right now. It is French musicians who are blazing the new trails for contemporary European jazz. There is a wonderful open-mindedness towards all musical cultures, genres and tendencies; and yet French musicians also give off the sense of having a proper grounding in their own tradition. A musician who represents all of these tendencies ‘par excellence’ is saxophonist Emile Parisien. Born in Cahors in the wine-growing region of the Lot, he is a jazz visionary. He may have one foot in that ancient soil, but his gaze is firmly fixed on the future. The leading French newspaper Le Monde has called him...
more

The French jazz scene has a vitality, an originality and a do-it- all and do-it-anyway mentality about it right now. It is French musicians who are blazing the new trails for contemporary European jazz. There is a wonderful open-mindedness towards all musical cultures, genres and tendencies; and yet French musicians also give off the sense of having a proper grounding in their own tradition. A musician who represents all of these tendencies ‘par excellence’ is saxophonist Emile Parisien. Born in Cahors in the wine-growing region of the Lot, he is a jazz visionary. He may have one foot in that ancient soil, but his gaze is firmly fixed on the future. The leading French newspaper Le Monde has called him “the best new thing that has happened in European jazz for a long time,” while the Hamburg radio station NDR made the point of telling its listeners to give Parisien their “undivided attention.”

The reference points on Parisien’s personal musical map are very widely spread indeed. They range from the popular folk traditions of his homeland to the compositional rigour of contemporary classical music, and also to the abstraction of free jazz. And yet everything he does has a naturalness and authenticity about it. Rather than appearing pre-meditated or constrained, his music has a flow, he traverses genres with a remarkable fleetness of foot and an effortless inevitability.

What is it that makes the simple urgency of Parisien’s music quite so enjoyable? How does he manage to combine a provocative and anarchic streak with such a captivating sense of swing? Anyone who has seen and heard him on stage will know: it is because he lives his jazz with body and soul, because there is an authenticity and honesty inflecting every breath and every note.


less

Tim Lefebvre (electronics)

Composer(s)

Michael Wollny

Michael Wollny, born in 1978 in Schweinfurt, internationally successful jazz pianist, music inventor, unconventional thinker, popular figure. Nobody plays piano like him. His trademark: the unpredictable, the quest for the never-before-heard, the courage to devote himself to the moment, to make the unforeseen sound self-evident. His desire to keep reinventing himself, both in terms of sound and composition; that is what makes him a “consummate piano maestro” (FAZ) and “the biggest (jazz) musician personality that Germany has produced since Albert Mangelsdorff” (Hamburger Abendblatt). 'As an improviser, you often find that it‘s not the compositions themselves you‘re playing, but your own memories of them. And as these memories come back to you in the moment, they assert their continuing existence in the here...
more
Michael Wollny, born in 1978 in Schweinfurt, internationally successful jazz pianist, music inventor, unconventional thinker, popular figure. Nobody plays piano like him. His trademark: the unpredictable, the quest for the never-before-heard, the courage to devote himself to the moment, to make the unforeseen sound self-evident. His desire to keep reinventing himself, both in terms of sound and composition; that is what makes him a “consummate piano maestro” (FAZ) and “the biggest (jazz) musician personality that Germany has produced since Albert Mangelsdorff” (Hamburger Abendblatt).

"As an improviser, you often find that it‘s not the compositions themselves you‘re playing, but your own memories of them. And as these memories come back to you in the moment, they assert their continuing existence in the here and now," says pianist/composer Michael Wollny. In other words, songs are like ghosts. Wollny‘s new album "Ghosts" is a gathering of some of the ghosts that regularly haunt him. Typically for Wollny, they range from classics like Franz Schubert's "Erlkönig" to jazz standards, film music, songs with a certain fragility by Nick Cave, say, or the band Timber Timbre, and also include his own darkly evocative original compositions.

In addition to Michael Wollny‘s leanings towards scary fantasy, the idea of "hauntology" is an important one for him. This term, which has been a looming presence in debates about pop music for some time, awakens memories of a distant past: forgotten, ghostly and spectral sounds. Wollny: "This perspective, these sounds and not least the term itself have preoccupied me in the past few months – and those reflections have led to the idea of producing a piano trio album dealing with the subject." A ghost album, then, that ventures into the depths of conscious and unconscious memory, sifts through stories originating in the past and which cast shadows on the present. This is a story of the friendly ghosts which surround us...but also of some evil spirits which we thought would never return.

The line-up to be heard on "Ghosts" is a direct follow-up from "Weltentraum", an album which now clearly stands as a cornerstone in Wollny's discography, since it established his reputation as an artist "who can turn every conceivable piece of music into an experience to take your breath away" (Die Zeit). American bassist Tim Lefebvre‘s very particular sound and vibe are to be heard on albums by David Bowie, Wayne Krantz and Elvis Costello. Wollny‘s most recent adventure alongside him was the internationally acclaimed project "XXXX". Wollny says: "When you work with Tim, you're not just working with one of the world's top bass players - Tim always has a foot in the world of sound processing, and is constantly expanding his electronic tool-kit. In addition to that, he creates phenomenal clarity in music and in overall sound, which has an unbelievable effect: it gives a shape and an organisation to the music without ever restricting you."

Wollny has been playing with drummer Eric Schaefer for almost 20 years. Like Lefebvre, he is also a complete original, a musician with an almost orchestral approach to sound, an unmistakable sense of groove and impressive individuality."The three of us are aligned in a special , inexplicable way. It‘s hard to describe but the effect is massive," says Wollny. "Last but not least, we are connected by the long time we have spent together. As a trio we have a specific sound, and we are now developing that in a wholly new direction." On "Ghosts", the trio has created a sound in the specific tradition of "Southern Gothic": deep, earthy, full of vibrating, rattling low-tuned strings and drumheads, evoking memories of clapped-out guitar amps, distorted cones of speakers cones. The atmosphere here is oppressively hot, the air heavy with dust.

Before "Ghosts" was actually recorded, another trio - Michael Wollny and the two co-producers Andreas Brandis and Guy Sternberg- convened. Brandis, who had already been heavily involved in the concept of "XXXX", brought to the table the concept of an album of songs, with the right people involved. Sternberg - he, as sound engineer, and Wollny had created the sound world of "Wunderkammer", which was to serve as the point of departure for this new album. Wollny says: "Even before the setlist for the album was fixed, I had a very clear sound in mind, which we discussed extensively with Guy and Andreas beforehand." The trio inhabits an acoustic space where nothing is superfluous or goes to waste: the long-dying resonance from a cymbal, drum or plucked string, or a sound from a reverberant surface, all are somehow there in the air. And sometimes all that remains is an acoustic or an electronic echo, a sound that hovers and acquires its own mysterious and spectral existence.

All the tracks on the album have one thing in common: each is a snapshot in the life of an individual song. Wollny: "Especially in jazz, there is never one definitive version of a piece. The standards repertoire always haunts you in the best sense of the word, these songs are never finished, they always resurface." And so, when it comes to classics such as "I Loves You Porgy" and "In a Sentimental Mood", Wollny, Lefebvre and Schaefer‘s primary point of reference is not the original compositions, but versions by Nina Simone and John Coltrane / Duke Ellington. And from a time before jazz standards, there are the spirits that inhabit folk songs and which reappear whenever these songs are sung. As, for example, in the traditional Irish folk song "She Moved Through the Fair", which is almost a prototype for the idea that ghost stories are to a large extent also love stories. As is also the case for "Willow's Song" - a seductive and dangerous love song from the legendary soundtrack for the cinema thriller "Wicker Man", a classic of the Nordic horror genre, as strange as it is frightening. Also related to "grand guignol" and nature: a startlingly vivid arrangement of Franz Schubert's "Erlkönig". In addition, in reference to the sultry "Southern Gothic": "Hand of God" by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, audibly dedicated to Wollny's great mentor, whom he describes as the "Hand of God", Joachim Kühn. And furthermore, "Beat the drum slowly" by the band Timber Timbre, a perennial favourite of Wollny's, and "Ghosts" by David Sylvian - perhaps the clearest representation of the themes that characterise "Ghosts": here we find that melodies and sounds can haunt memories that stay either hidden or repressed, and in a way that is at the same time seductive, touching, mysterious and profound. Two original compositions by Wollny find their place naturally in this cleverly selected programme, which is as heterogeneous as it is coherent: first is Wollny's eponymous contribution to "Hauntology", for him "a ‘song without words‘ which comes from another, past or strange, parallel pop world" and then "Monsters never breathe" with its melody that stretches into infinity and could only ever be sung if it were possible to sing without needing to pause for breath.

"All the songs are living ghosts and long for a living voice" wrote the Irish poet Brendan Kennelly (1936 - 2021) in one of his most famous poems. For Michael Wollny, this line is a cryptic and yet profound insight. It adds an eerie beauty and serves as a motto for his fascination for the magic of songs which this recording represents. When we talk about ghosts, we look into what seems to be the past, and bring back memories from it into our lives. We as listeners can all believe in the "Ghosts" that the Michael Wollny Trio hear. Because we can all hear them and recognise them.


less

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