Ireneusz Socha

With/Without

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Polish drummer Ireneusz Socha released With/Without as a CD-R in 2000. The album features four suites. In each, Socha is paired with a different musician. First up is the three-part "Erinyes" with flutist Barbara Socha. Her powerful, fluttering lines hover like a hummingbird above the busy drum playing in the first part. Things cool off in the last two sections, but a strong impression remains: This sounds a lot like the aesthetics developed in the late '80s/early '90s by the Montreal label Ambiances Magnétiques, especially by another drummer, Michel F. Côté, in his project Bruire -- both artists share a love for rhythmic patterns in free improvisation contexts. This feeling is nourished by the next suite, a virtual duet with Ambiances Magnétiques' Joane Hétu (alto saxophone, voice). Vocal drones are sampled by Socha in "Mur Nord" and "Mur Ouest" to create fascinating ethereal atmospheres. The third suite features Marek Choloniewski on electronics. This set of improvisations reveals the drummer's sense of rhythm and ability to stir an improv in different directions without letting it skid. Up to this point things have gone very well, and With/Without makes a strong introducing card. Sadly, "Don't Look Back" with cellist/pianist Boleslaw Blaszczyk brings a weak closure. His two solos are so tonal and conservatory they feel utterly out of place. Socha's attempt to sample and recombine them into two more pieces fails to convince. There is still a lot to like on this CD, and fans of Côté or the Rec Rec sound of the early '90s won't loose their time checking it out.

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