Sven-Åke Johansson

Barcelona Series

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Entitled the Barcelona Series because the trio first played in that city, this album, recorded at the apartment of drummer Sven-Åke Johansson, is best described as abstract, difficult, and esoteric: something, in other words, for specialized tastes. The drummer, a peripheral though steady part of the free improvisation continuum going back to the 1960s, is described in the liners by Peter Niklas Wilson as putting forth "a mechanistic, almost non-expressive playing stance, with the aesthetics of renouncement or leaving out instead of filling in." For the most part the music consists of little sounds, with trumpeter Axel Dörner generally relegated to shadowy, airy puffs; light gurgles; and bare, fibrous quilts of delicate noise. The 11 tracks are vignettes filled with slices of sounds that go nowhere, but hang imperturbably, often for more than a few seconds at a time. Johansson's drums are perhaps the most traditional-sounding of the threesome, with Andrea Neumann's pianoharp on the fringes. The results bear little resemblance to jazz or even free jazz improvisation, and the references by Wilson to John Cage are not unfounded. Static, formless, and fragile, at their best the trio achieves a peacefulness, although some of the tracks, such as "9," experience tension, in which the trumpet even sounds like, well, a trumpet.

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