In the debut release from the duo of Sabine Vogel (flutes, stones) and Jamie Drouin (modular synthesizer, radio), we are treated to a series of short, jewel-like compositions which push the combination of their respective instruments to sonic extremes. Entitled RAUMFLUCHTEN, the German term for a suite of rooms, the album follows the two musicians through seven improvisations which, while thematically connected by the materials employed, remain as distict and contrasting arrangements that are sure to suprise the listener.
Recorded live at Sabine Vogel’s Potsdam home on October 15, 2011.
Tonight, another new release on the Infrequency label run by the Canadian duo Lance Austin Olsen and Jamie Drouin. This one is a duo disc containing seven short improvisations by Drouin, playing modular synth and radio, and the German flautist Sabine Vogel, who also adds stones to flute on the list of instrumentation used. The disc comes wrapped in a further beautiful cover to rival others on the label, presumably painted by Olsen, whose work in general as a visual artist is remarkable. The seven pieces on Raumfluchten are each relatively different in shape and tone, though as an overarching principle, the music here is quiet and made up of small, undramatic incidents that sit quietly adjacent to normally only one other sound at any given time. Its an understated affair then, but does not lack both beauty as the relatively tight range of sounds in either musician’s palette combine in lovely ways but also a degree of complexity as the way sounds are fitted together can create awkward shapes that bely the soft dynamic they are played in. The final seventh track for instance mixes closely miked short blasts of earthily dry air from Vogel with recurring soft tones from Drouin. The simple and yet affecting way that these two simple elements combine make this album what it is.
The album art sums up the music perfectly for me. Two simple forms come together, touching at one precise point so as to not only combine the forms but throw the space between the two into disarray and new shapes again. The negative spaces in the music often as interesting to listen to as the sounds themselves. The two musicians generally do not attempt to layer sounds on top of one another and there is a sensation of clean space between the two musicians, but it is often interrupted or cut up into new shapes again. Excuse so many visual metaphors but there is something quite painterly in this music, but not in a dense mass of brushstrokes way, more the precision flair of Japanese calligraphy, bold free strokes placed in carefully chosen places, intersecting with others in few, but impactful places.
This is very much a CD that appeals to my tastes then. Its reserved, quiet style is the antithesis of chattering busy improv, though it is clear that the pieces here were created in the moment with the tools to hand. The decisions made however have been carefully thought through after a degree of consideration rather than the rough and tumble of most improvisation. Raumfluchten is a fine CD then that demands a befitting approach from the listener. It is however a very nice set of musical vignettes that I can heartily recommend along with all of th either recent discs on this excellent little label.
Richard Pinnell | The Watchful Ear
Raumfluchten est une piste de trente minutes divisée en sept sections et interprétée par le duo Jamie Drouin (synthétiseur analogique, radio) et Sabine Vogel (flûte, cailloux). Sept tableaux plutôt calmes, aux sonorités et aux atmosphères à chaque fois surprenantes. Fréquences radios, bruits de clés, cailloux frottés et frappés, électricité dérangée, souffles humains et électriques, clapotis, fréquences analogiques saturées et calmes, quelques sons épars s’entremêlent avec grâce au profit d’une atmosphère souvent sereine ou même contemplative. Une contemplation du son et de l’interaction parfaite entre deux musiciens inventifs et réceptifs au discours de chacun. Un discours toujours adapté à l’autre mais de manière intransigeante et sans compromis.
Cette suite de trente minutes propose des tableaux aux atmosphères pleines de contrastes, à l’image de cette étrange pochette ornée d’un clair-obscur surexposé. Des tableaux d’ombres et de lumières, de synthèses analogiques et de bruits acoustiques, de silence et de bruit. Le but de ces sept improvisations est de surprendre l’auditeur, et autant dire que le pari est réussi, car pour ma part, je n’avais encore jamais entendu rien de semblable: une musique principalement composée d’éléments abstraits qui, se superposant, finissent par former des figures concrètes, narratives ou expressives. Entre abstraction et figuration, entre lumière et obscurité, entre bruit et musique, entre silence et son, la situation des musiciens paraît intermédiaire mais la musique est tout de même sans compromis, et l’expressionnisme du duo est aussi puissant que sa capacité d’écoute, d’interaction, et surtout, d’inventivité. Une suite peut-être courte mais riche et dense, aux atmosphères très travaillées, pour une suite d’esquisses qui se mettent en valeur les unes à la suite des autres. Tableaux calmes, poétiques et sensibles, lumineux à certains moments, obscurs à d’autres, mais toujours précis et absorbant.
Une immersion profonde et dense dans des bruits obscurs et des notes lumineuses. Très bon.
Julien Heraud | Improv Sphere
Another gorgeous cover! And the music’s really fine as well. Drouin (modular synth, radio) and Vogel (flutes, stones) fashion seven pieces that ably straddle the divide between the contemplative and the uneasy. The music is fairly quiet and casts a gentle kind of light at first blush but, as the sounds unfold, a troubled kind of knottiness emerges. As the disc progresses, this urgency becomes more and more apparent, full blown by the final track, yet still the tension remains, the synth reining in, to an extent, the vaulting, rampaging flute. This series of rooms, then (“Raumfluchten” translating to a suite of rooms) becomes something of a drama, a complex interchange. Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but to my ears the personal-ness of this comes through strongly, more so than in most duos of improvised music. Drouin is reasonably restrained throughout, very adept at introducing commentary that’s both respectful and provocative while Vogel seems more willing to push things into uncomfortable territory, her flutes bubbling, lava-like, stoking the furnace that forms a substrate.
A very consistent recording, each section flowing smoothly and fitting in with its neighbors; given the title, one can’t help but think of open portals between rooms, walking through, looking back and considering what was said in the last one, looking forward into the net with some excitement and some trepidation.
Brian Olewnick | Just Outside
“Excellent collaboration for flute and electronics recorded in Berlin last year.”
Another Timbre | Recommendations from other labels
Certainly one of my go-to albums of this style. Enough warmth, tension, depth, and texture to make this a compelling listen for fans of Sakamoto, Illuha, and Deupree...or people just curious about this genre. Matt Cahill