Sunday, October 14, 2007

Electro-Euro Improvisation and a Side of Trumpet and Sax

Matthias Mainz/Hannes Hoelzl/Joker Nies/Alberto De Campo/John Berndt
October 14, 2007 @ The Red Room, Baltimore, MD

Matthias Mainz: trumpet, electronics
Hannes Hoelzl: laptop, original software
Joker Nies: analog electronics
Alberto De Campo: laptop, analog input devices
John Berndt: soprano saxophone, inventions

With quiet, shifting textures the various configurations of solo, duo, quartet and quintet of electronics with wind instruments exposed the role of active listening in improvised contexts regardless of medium and instrumentation. The guest European laptop musicians at the Red Room on this occasion have a refined and well developed sense of interaction and listening.

With the physical "performance" of laptop music being what it is, I found my ears pulled strongly toward the trumpet sound and welcomed periods when the processed and live trumpet sound would emerge into the foreground. Even with eyes closed to evaluate the sound as a whole, the rich variety of that acoustic instrument was the most compelling part of the soundscape. The electro-acoustic textures emanating from the laptops and analog gizmos were tasteful and well balanced within the overall sound. But the enormous appeal of Matthias Mainz's trumpet sound paired with my reservations on the current state of laptop/Super Collider improvisation made it difficult to place my focus anywhere else.

The spontaneous duo of Mainz and Berndt, the only all-acoustic portion of the evening, was a welcome relief from a pair who had only met that afternoon. The laptop duo between Hoelzl and De Campo - billed as "laptops unplugged" - using only the internal speakers of the computers was an interesting curiosity.

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