Fred Lonberg-Holm


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This is by far Fred Lonberg-Holm's most experimental and difficult recording, and it comes as no surprise that it is being released by the British label Emanem instead of one of his regular American outlets. Despite the title, this album is 100 percent solo. The dialogue it refers to takes place between the cellist and his cello -- or is it between the instrument as it was conceived and the preparations it undergoes in Lonberg-Holm's hands? The artist has rarely gone this far in his deconstruction of the vocabulary of the instrument. It is not only the screeching bow-pressure techniques he uses, but also the small motors and speakers he attaches to the instrument, the piezos mirroring/multiplying/fragmenting its sound, the whole idea of approaching the cello as a noise-maker instead of an instrument. The resulting music is extremely demanding on the listener, as it completely eschews the notion of prettiness and redefines the concept of virtuosity. In the end, very little of the cello is actually left. The beauty of this music resides in the invention, the creativity, and (at times) the moving playing that can be detected through it all (as in "Dialog 7," almost a gospel). Of course, Lonberg-Holm is not the first to reinvent the instrument from top to bottom -- let's mention Mark Wastell and Vic Rawlings, to name only two other innovators. But despite its harsh outlooks, Dialogs has the merit of offering a dynamically rich experience, almost maximalist in essence, which is a nice change from the minimal approach favored in experimental circles at the time this CD was recorded and released. That being all said, fans of Lonberg-Holm's more conventional free improvisation and avant-jazz projects will most probably recoil at first, and this is clearly not a good place to start in his discography.

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