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CD Feature/ brekekekexkoaxkoax: "We used to be such good friends"

img  Tobias

The term improvisation means different things to different people. To Josh Ronsen, it is more than just a drawer to file all music made in the moment, more than just a nostalgic relic from the 60s and 70s. To him, it is the essence of performing and the closest one can get to communicating something which can not be put into words. Or, to put it frankly: To him it means everything. After listening to “We used to be such good friends”, his point is becoming more and more convincing.

Even the name of his loosely associated, tightly knit, long-lived and open-ended ensemble brekekekexkoaxkoax (don’t let your shrink catch you trying to pronounce that) sounds as though it could have been the result of a verbal jam session. In the booklet, one finds excerpts from an interview with French Deconstructionist Philosopher Jaques Derrida as well as short, seemingly unrelated text fragments, which combine in a halucinatory way to form a clear picture of Ronsen’s aesthetics: A freely interacting group liberates the inmost desires of its participants, all of which are combining their forces to create something at the same time familiar and foreign. Improvisation, therefore is not a genre, nor a technique, it is a process which will lead to results as unpredictable and complex as life itself – which is maybe why many consider it “difficult” and prefer the easy organisation of prepared compositions. On the other hand, there is nothing “difficult” about “We used to be...”. The band has been associated with the lower case movement around Josh Russel’s Bremsstrahkung Records and this becomes more than apparent in these quietly lumbering tracks. As if everything were covered in soft felt, there is never an outburst, never even the threat of an explosion. Sometimes, unusual combinations will cause a sensation of uneasiness, but other than that the group members are treating their instruments like parents telling their children to be careful in a china shop. Which can be explained by the non-linear outset of brekekekexkoaxkoax: Unlike many of their colleagues, the many different artists involved in this effort are not necessarily interested in building structures from the void, but rather in finding modes of cooperation, short passages of harmony and shaking-hands, before loosening the grip and moving on to something else. On the almost half an hour long opening “Haifa Hi-Fi”, this leads to tender spiderwebs of winds and acoustic string instruments, while “tuesday on sunday” works by contrasting introvert melancholia with sonorous claustrophobia.

Of course, enjoying this album at home on your stereo and especially putting it on several times in a row, reduces quite a bit of the immediate complexity of the music and especially of its unpredictability. And yet it never looses its spontaneous and surprising character. That may well be its greatest strength: To brekekekexkoaxkoax, improvising not only means creating something from the moment, but working on music which feels as though it were born anew with each listen.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Josh Ronson / brekekekexkoaxkoax

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