Gabriele Hasler

OrganIC VoICes

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This is one of those recordings you either have an affinity for and welcome with open arms or are so put off by its self-imposed, self-conscious artiness. While the pair of artists here would have you believe -- via the liner notes -- that this music, while not coming from any particular point of view, has its roots not only in classical music and the new European school of improvisation, but in jazz and the black gospel churches, this is simply not true. There is no more European music than that recorded here. The duet of church organ and the human voice (with a trumpet and trombone thrown in on a couple of tracks) is a European construct in and of itself. And though it's true, as writer Bert Noglik asserts, that Fats Waller played the organ at Notre Dame (and recorded a huge batch of solos), and that the instrument has always played a place in Southern black churches, that's merely a coincidence of circumstance. Musically, this is art music that takes its roots from the great German sacred music traditions and post-Webern vocal music -- and perhaps the organ works of Olivier Messiaen. The improvisation that takes place here is ethereal and free-floating; there is no focus on microtonal investigation/creation (despite the organ and the human voice being perfect instruments for it), but only on the articulation of utterances that build and release tension through a series of floating, exchangeable oppositions that cannot help but to harmonically converge at some place on the pentatonic scale. Make no mistake, the music here is pleasant, moving, and at times even strikingly beautiful, but it is not what it claims to be, nor is it particularly innovative despite its considerable and weighty pedigree.

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