Hans Reichel

Angel Carver: Live in Milwaukee and Chicago, 1988

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Recorded over two dates in the Midwest, Angel Carver reveals the lengths that two improvising musicians will go to get to the depth of an idea and then move it forward. Hans Reichel, master guitarist and inventor of the daxophone (which he plays here as well as his homemade guitars), and the late Tom Cora on cello range far and wide in their search for a way to communicate deeply what words or written language can never convey. Since sound is the medium for a communication that must be transferred not only between the players but through the audience as well (as the interlocutors of the experience it would be very different if they were alone in a room together, guaranteed), the terrain explored must be as varied as each man's experience playing in front of an audience improvisationally. Often this is accomplished atonally, as the first third of "Rest Up, Premonitions" attests. The listener is jarred by the percussive edge of this sound. "Isn't this two string players? What's all that beating?" After it moves through scrapes and squeaks, with each man playing just behind the other in a round, Cora takes the lead and constructs a complex, eerie melodic idea that Reichel follows with a dissonant counterpart. Over 19 minutes it plays out, winding and twisting its way through the mind of the listener until we're not sure where we are! As "Miracles, To Boot" commences, silence and the delicate texture of the cello are underscored by Reichel's daxophone being scraped and plucked is assonance. New chords, constructed from the various noted played by both men, are constructed from the tension and dynamic between the instruments. The sound of improvisers hearing becomes the impetus for a piece that eventually conjures entirely new sonic and tonal modalities out of the ether, from the physical space left unoccupied by either player or audience. And the rest of the disc follows suit, with the closing "Invitation to Dance" being particularly charming. European folk and square dances are traced and echoed by Cora. There is humor here, too, as Reichel makes the sound of flutes and gongs turn the invitation into a demand. But the joke is on us as the rhythm is slippery at best. It slithers, wanders, and pulses its way across space and geography into a soup that is a static as it is electric. The dancers turn and turn but have nowhere to go. As is the norm for both of these men, this is an excellent document of what must have been a very special tour. We are fortunate to have the document.

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