Malcolm Goldstein

The Smell of Light

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Here is modern 'High Art' at its finest: undefined genre; no melodies; stretches of freely improvised passages; virtuosic performances often filled with passion and irreverence; and consummate writing that blurs the edges. Each limited-edition CD is framed in a handmade CD bag. There are few musicians, let alone violinists, incorporating the explosive fervor of Malcolm Goldstein, who stretches the palette of his instrument in unexpected directions. Here he is joined by percussionist Matthias Kaul, a former rock and jazz drummer who migrated toward free improvisation and who first met Goldstein at a milk bar in the main train station in Hamburg, Germany, after which the two performed together regularly in concert. What makes them work so well as a duo is that besides being outstanding improvisers, they suppress egos as each listens extremely carefully to the other. The continually unexpected results are as invigorating as they are disturbing. On "Concerning Melody," there is a simple call-and-response passage followed by impassioned percussion shaded by the violinist's colorful flights. Moods change, sometimes dramatically, as on the penultimate composition, "Last! Movement," which opens with ambient percussion and lightly swirling violin, with Kaul dramatically increasing his volume on occasion, and the sounds eventually waning to nothingness. A couple of the tracks use texts as essential elements. "It Were Another," for example, a solo violin piece (with added spoken word), written by Goldstein, is based both on phrases of the composer describing improvisation, and on a statement by painter Jasper Johns that was later adapted by John Cage. Throughout the recording there is a sense of extraordinary creativity, with the listener seemingly privy to an extraordinary conversation between two creative spirits.

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