Lurk Lab

More Trouble with Honey Pumps
Sporeprint 1712-09

Only the third literal record of its 10-year collaboration, the German Lurk Lab trio continues to exhibit the profound harmony it has developed among two acoustic instruments and electronics. Spread over one lengthy and two shorter tracks, the handiwork is propelled as if the three were a trio of chefs, ensuring that none of the meal’s ingredients overpowers the others. All are skilled in this sort of genre-mixing in an improvised context, with tenor saxophonist Matthias Schubert having worked with the likes of Simon Nabatov and Satoko Fujii; drummer Jörg Fischer with Olaf Rupp and Peter Brétzmann; and Uli Böttcher, who plays electronics and beat box here with Dirk Marwedel and Michael Vorfeld.

Summarily each track ends up showcasing a unique trio conception, with the introductory, 28-minute “Fourmi Plus” giving the three a chance to expresses themselves without editing, allowing enough space for all the extensions and interpolations of the trio program to be exposed. Meantime the concluding “Fourmi Minus” is in essence a Schubert showcase. As Böttcher’s machine splutters and splashes beside him, the saxophonist moves from a thrusting bugle-call-like introduction to the the-horizontal exposition to shattering reflections on the theme to ferocious Albert Ayler-like stop-time riffing. Combing memories of The New Thing with echoes from outer space, “Neo Zisch” belongs mostly to Böttcher as his repurposed field recordings capture distorted and amplified textures encompassing video-game-like pops and crashes to pulls and stops that could come from a string set. Still the granular synthesis and programmed crunches match up decisively with cymbal pops and undulating paradiddles from Fischer.

“Fourmi Plus” appears to connect and inflate any and all timbres that aren’t expressed elsewhere – and some that are. Adjacent to the granular synthesis, unaffiliated crashes and clicks and patched in-and-out sounds from the electronics, are wood and rim shot thumping drum interjections plus guttural slurs and altissimo split tones from the saxophonist. Although the piece becomes more pressurized and intense as the buzzes, whines and rebounds move as one, scattered keyboard-like licks in tandem with hand drumming builds to an interlude completed by in-and-out reed breaths that inventively suggest a melody that subsides into a final descriptive slur and concluding drum pop.

Gaps between discs haven’t prevented Lurk Lab from operating at a high standard each time it records. This session however suggests the trio should do so more often.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Fourmi Plus 2. Neo Zisch 3. Fourmi Minus

Personnel: Matthias Schubert (tenor saxophone); Uli Böttcher (electronics and beat box) and Jörg Fischer (drums)