In 2001, sound artist John Duncan and Zeitkratzer shared a residency at the Podewil in Berlin. The nine-piece new music ensemble is renowned for its all-acoustic performances of electronic works (previous composers they worked with include Merzbow, Zbigniew Karkowski, and Lou Reed). Fresh presents two works by Duncan, both previously released in their digital form but given a stunningly different reading here. Duncan doesn't usually score his music -- he assembles it. So the step was huge from taking the highly textural pieces "Nav-Flex" and "Trinity" and scoring them for conventional instruments. Luckily, this is not your conventional ensemble. The sounds these musicians squeeze out of their instruments bridge the gap between real and virtual, acoustic and electronic. At first, "Nav-Flex" was a sample-based collaboration with Francisco López released on the two-CD set Nav. It starts with a loud drone that quickly quiets down and remains that way for half an hour. The many layers of this drone ripple and slowly move around each other, bringing to mind the orchestral music of Klaus Lang. "Trinity" began its life on the Ash International compilation A Fault in the Nothing. More eventful but still very meditative, it relies on the string players (violinist Burkhard Schlothauer, cellist Michael Moser, and bassist Alexander Frangenheim, not to forget inside-pianist Reinhold Friedl). The previous piece put the brass section up front, especially trumpeter Franz Hautzinger and tuba player Melvyn Poore, both bubbling away on breath-based drones. Fresh is short (40 minutes) but intense and rewards active listening. It provides a very different perspective on Duncan's music and art.
AllMusic Review by François Couture