Robert Rutman

Zuhh!! Muttie Mum!!

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Robert Rutman is an instrument inventor who created the steel cello in the early '70s. The instrument is a large sheet of steel suspended vertically, with a wire stretching between the two right corners. This string is bowed, and the curved steel acts as a resonator. The player can fret the string to produce a wide range of pitches, and can also use the instrument for percussive sounds. All of these techniques are exploited here by a quartet of players who include not only Rutman, but Carsten Tiedemann from the tribal-ambient group Mo Boma and Rudi Moser, a recent addition to the industrial group Einst├╝rzende Neubauten. The bookend pieces "Buzz Chime" and "Buzz Off" consist completely of buzzing drones with regular undulations, but the remainder of the release explores great resonating waves of sound, full of overtones and long, sustained tones. "Dresden" sounds like an air raid, with an ominous opening section reminiscent of resonating airplane sounds in World War II movies, then a screeching of sirens and crashes. "Get Drunk" has three members of the quartet playing constant drones and long swells of sound, while a fourth lurches a melodic lead that finishes in a roar. "Matthias Steel Cello" features sounds that recall a bowed cello, but the expansive and shimmering "Duet" and "Sounds of Nothing" show off the quieter aspects of the instruments. "Duet" is one of the most successful pieces on the disc, with long sustained tones in a low register which provide an open field for harmonics and overtones. This collection is a good exploration of new areas of instrument building, as well as a fine ambient and drone release in its own right.

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