Wazahugy

Wazahugy

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Wazahugy? It stands for WAchsmann (Philipp), ZAch (Ingar), HUg (Charlotte), and GrYdeland (Ivar). Two Norwegian improvisers meet two continental Europeans in London. They record in a studio for two days, hoping a group will emerge from the sessions. Groundwork had been previously done. Guitarist Grydeland and drummer Zach are regular partners (see their 2000 CD, Visiting Ants); Wachsmann (violin, electronics) and Hug (violin, electronics) play together in various groupings. The first two lean toward high-energy improv, the string players have been following a reductionist path that prompts them to pay closer attention to silence and give more weight to smaller gestures. So this meeting was not as obvious as it may first appear, and the differences of approaches and opinions present create a very interesting tension. A group sound -- something that could last -- doesn't necessarily come through, but as a one-time project Wazahugy is fascinating. Without turning into a tug of war, the music clearly displays behaviors like harnessing and attempting to break free. Listen to how Hug and Wachsmann chain down the Norwegians in track five (the pieces are untitled) with their short, sparse notes -- Zach answers by alternating between frantic light cymbal brushing and isolated loud whacks on a drum and a woodblock. Listen again to the guitar and drums taking a head start in the "hidden" track six, only to be brought back in a matter of minutes. Compromise in free improv can result in boring music or an entertaining cat-and-mouse chase. This CD definitely belongs to the latter category. Recommended.