Gush / Mats Gustafsson


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1994's GUSHWACHS finds Phillipp Wachsmann engaged in an early round of electro-acoustic improvisation with Gush, the Swedish free-music trio of Mats Gustafsson, Sten Sandell, and Raymond Strid. This outing, which prefigures Evan Parker's well-received Electro-Acoustic Ensemble, is a particularly multiphonic exercise in the extension of instrumentation through live electronic processing. Gush employs such unusual voices as Sandell's prepared piano, harmonium, and analog synthesizer, Gustafsson's shrieking French flageolet and invented fluteophone (a flute played with a saxophone mouthpiece), and Strid's assortment of amplified "instruments and objects."

While Wachsmann's classically inflected viola and violin lines integrate well with the established ensemble, it's his use of electronics to break down and simultaneously reconfigure sounds that makes GUSHWACHS so exhilarating. Gustaffson's excitable brass prattle, often multiplied and amplified by Wachsmann, communes with gurgling oscillations and showers of Strid's tabletop percussion and instrumental scrabbling. Sandell and Wachsmann float delicate phrasing through the commotion of sound. The intricate, multi-tiered strategy of processing and performance liberates the players, sparking spectacularly combustible free improv that pays off in a riot of sonorities both natural and unnatural.