Thomas Witzmann / Thomas Witzmann

Zeug für Schlagquartett

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Holy moly, this is a weird record! Thomas Witzmann is a composer of the outlandish. His obsession with rhythm and its ability to both enhance and throw off everyday life is infectious, however, as this crazy cycle of rhythm and sound poems unfolds. Without lead instruments or conventional drums -- save for a snare -- the very concept of rhythm becomes nonmusical, organic, full of its own density and space as well as its own spatial linguistics. Add voices to the mix, either counting or chanting or sometimes both at once. There is no rhythm that can be counted by the casual listener; beats seem to come in sequences or barrages but without a discernable pattern in tandem. Cymbals, triangles, wood blocks, sticks on stone, thumping tubs, everything calls forth beat-conscious entropy because it is impossible for these works to extend into other vocabularies. Even the vocals seem to slip downward into the archway of the beat. Fives, fours, a seen here, and a two there, with the chant stuck to count off some non-corresponding rhythmic pattern in the distance and then in the foreground, it's a kind of glorious anarchy that tables our notion of how "pronounced" (i.e., "predictable") rhythm itself is. Instead we peer down into it and allow it to swim up to greet us, rather than slap us upside the head to pay attention. This is a strange preoccupation of Witzmann's, but I, for one, am glad he has it. Many thanks to Random Acoustics for putting this out.

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