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CD Feature/ mem1: "improvisations + edits"

img  Tobias

We often think of improvisational music as a dialogue: One instruments offers a statement, a second receives and transforms it, only to ask new questions waiting to be answered. As if decades of technological development had gone by unnoticed, this model has almost exclusively been the domain of Jazz – bringing with it a multitude of exciting possibilities and breathtaking surprises. And some indisputable limitations as well. So let’s, just for the sake of covering new ground, forget about Jazz for a second and leave the realms of this basic model. What would happen, for instance, if it would allow for feedback loops, for game-theoretical extensions, for a continous mutual stream of ideas? Quite possbily, we would end up with an album like “improvisations + edits”.

For sure, we would end up with an album as far away from any given genre as possible. Despite its improvisational nature, this record has absolutely nothing to do with Coltraine and Miles and doesn’t even come close to comparing to some more contemporary colleagues such as Nils Petter Molvaer. It’s no friend of l’art pour l’art either. And even though a Cello is involved, Classical and New Music are not waiting around the bend. Best if  you try to forget about all references and just listen to the music for one second: There’s translucent structures, vitreous and almost see-through ramifications, minuscule movement in the most unlikely places and a lot of empty space, waiting to be filled by your own imagination – this album is white and spaceous. Mem1 are a duo consisting of cellist Laura Thomas-Merino  and media artist m cera, operating with self-made hardware, and their intent lies not in carefully combining the sounds of their respective instruments, but rather in creating a new entity. Sounds from the cello are trreated in real-time and fused with electronic noise, which yields a new basis for cello-improvisation. What emerges from this neverending interaction has nothing to do with what went in and can not be recycled into its original state – just like you can’t return a fried egg into its shell. As you would expect, there’s a high degree of processing, but strangely the result is neither rigid nor formulaic, but organic and open. Tiny themes take on a life of their own, seemlessly detached from preimposed meaning, motives flow like babbling brooks, delicate drones come up like the morning sun on a muted horizon and there’s always a twinkle in the air.

There’s not a single traditional melody on “improvisations + edits” and merely hints at harmony. And still, there’s an overwhelming sense of familiarity and intimacy. As foreign as these pieces may be, they behave and evolve in a very natural way – and our mind, looking for ledgers and references, will always associate them with our every-day existence. Maybe this comes pretty close to a sundown on Mars, to what the jungle on Pluto sounds like, to the workings of an alien botanic garden. Whatever it is, it is never just a dialogue, it’s the formulation of something new. And, just for a second, all limitations have gone.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: mem1

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