This fourth effort is by far Not Missing Drums Project's best album to date. While the previous ones tended to lack focus, multiplying short tracks, guest contributors, and approaches, The Gay Avantgarde has a clear purpose. Joachim Gies (saxophones, keyboards) and Thomas Böhm-Christl (cello, keyboards) have selected texts from the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, particularly those pertaining to music, and set them in contexts that add an interpretive dimension. The lineup is restricted to six musicians: the two leaders plus trombonist Jörg Huke, bassist Matthias Bauer (who also doubles as speaker), Alex Nowitz (voice and effects), and mezzo-soprano Ute Döring. The ten pieces take the general form of a contemporary song cycle, with Döring occupying center stage. Each track offers a different dosage of certain basic elements: composition versus free improvisation, contemporary classical versus jazz, acoustic (two horns, two strings) versus electronic (keyboards and treatments), singing versus speaking, legibility (written text) versus gibberish (vocal improvisation). If this breakdown sounds mechanical, the music doesn't. Nothing is stated in black or white; the interest of each piece resides in the displacements on these various axes and how a whole set of choices enriches the philosopher's aphorisms. It's simply brilliant, both as concept and result. Luckily, the booklet includes English translations.
AllMusic Review by François Couture