In The Arte of Navigation, Georg Wissel sails the seven seas of free improv saxophone. In only 36 minutes he visits most regions of this art form, from Peter Brötzmann to Evan Parker, John Butcher, and Wolfgang Fuchs. Each track (with titles like "322 Degrees NNW" or "116 Degrees OSO") leads him in a different direction. The player's vocabulary is extensive, his extended techniques impressive. His aptitude at spontaneous creation holds promises, but it doesn't fully materialize in this recording. What is more disturbing, though, is the fact that Wissel can borrow the voices of a wide range of players, but lacks one of his own. A more cynical writer could even refer to him as a great impersonator, but his goal is obviously not to entertain and his intentions sound pure. He just needs to detach himself from his inspirations. "219 Degrees SSW" sticks very close to Parker's circular breathing. "14 Degrees NNO" is all Brötzmann at first, Butcher afterwards. Wissel is better in that range where sound falls under the microscope and gets autopsied. Breath, key clicks, elongated tones with shifting harmonics, although common to Butcher and Fuchs, seem to hold something more personal, more visceral here.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture