Manon Liu Winter

Brospa

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Without knowing better, seeing a disc by two musicians with instrumentation listed as "extended piano" and "quartertone trumpet," one might expect a rather astringent offering featuring a sparsely populated sound space. The rich, massive assault that greets the listener's ears on the opening track of Brospa comes, therefore, as quite a surprise, forcing one to ask, "How do they possibly generate such sound from that set-up?" Well, it is a mystery, possibly involving elaborate microphones, and who knows what other studio enhancements. Far more importantly, however, the music produced is consistently captivating, romantic in its expansiveness, and thrilling in its evocation of vast, dark caverns. Hautzinger uses highly amplified breath tones almost exclusively, summoning hurricanes and blizzards from his horn, weaving them alternately with care and abandon through Winter's gloriously cacophonous prepared keyboard. "The Respiration" begins true to its title, with the steady in and out of breath into a trumpet. It builds gradually in intensity, accompanied by echoing and thunderous scrapes across piano strings, welling and subsiding in turn -- it's as though one has spent ten minutes inside the lungs of a giant. The most "traditional" track is probably "Strudelhofstiege," wherein Hautzinger engages in valve-popping, and Winter plays several unenhanced notes on the piano. The notes echo in a less occupied space, like water dripping in a large cave. Veteran fans of the European improv scene who may have begun to think that no significantly new sound worlds were being explored at the turn of the century would be well-advised to give Brospa a listen. It's a mysterious, beautiful, and altogether impressive release.

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