For his fourth CD on the label For 4 Ears, trombonist Günter Heinz recruited the European Powerbook Ensemble, a duo of live electronicists, to create a work that can be compared to Evan Parker's Electro-Acoustic Ensemble, especially Parker's collaborations with Lawrence Casserley, or Kristoff K. Roll's La Pièce with clarinetist Xavier Charles. Recorded live in the studio in 1998, Trombone on M.A.R.S. is more successful at expanding the range of this particular instrument than earlier electronic attempts by Konrad Bauer and Rodney Oakes. The music shares affinities with musique concrète, glitch and other forms of experimental laptop electronica, and free improvisation -- but it doesn't really belong to any of these categories. Heinz calculates his gestures, playing sparse, short phrases, emphasizing staccatos and mute plays (except in the first track, which is more drone-based), all tactics that make the work of Jochen Bohnes and Wolfgang Heiniger easier. The game of call and response in index four (tracks are untitled) is particularly captivating. In track three, the trombonist shifts to flute, providing relief and variety right where it was needed, and forcing the electronicists into new territories, since the two instruments have such different ranges, tones, and envelopes. Occasionally, an electronic sound comes in surprisingly loud, to a point where the listener cannot help but question its intentional nature. Otherwise, this is a very nice performance, fascinating even after numerous listens.
AllMusic Review by François Couture