Unsolicited Music Ensemble

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Bulbs Review

by François Couture

A bulb is good or it's not; it works or it doesn't -- and no, the rheostat doesn't count. There is no such direct simplicity in the music of the Unsolicited Music Ensemble. On the contrary, it lives on gradation, uncertainty, and ambivalence. And since a bulb usually brings to mind electricity, it is worth mentioning that the music is entirely acoustic. Recorded over two days in three different locations in Stockholm and Uppsala (Sweden), this album features a trio of free improvisers in sync with each other and sharing a clearly determined intention: to make quiet noise-based music. Raymond Strid never hits a drum squarely, instead he brushes, taps, bows, and shakes. Bassist Tony Wren explores a number of pressure-bow techniques, doing everything but bowing or plucking a note. The same applies to saxophonist Martin Küchen: His gurgles, breathing sounds, and occasional short outbursts never resemble a frank horn note. And that's all right because the sounds come together very well -- too well in some places where the listener can have a hard time entangling Küchen's contribution from Wren's. Even though this is not meant to be an excited session, it still lacks excitement. These delicate improvisations -- skilled, focused, and challenging as they can be -- get tiresome in the long run.

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