Der Finger

Le Cinque Stagioni
Toten Schwan Records TSR 106

Hopefully it isn’t another instance of Putin-styled variation on collusion, but it appears as if many Russian musicians have discovered the often touted but elusive connection among Noise Metal., Punk Hyperbole and unbridled Free Jazz. Recently there was a CD in that vein by the decades old BROM trio, and here suffused with equal sonic audacity is a disc by another Moscow-based trio which has been active during the same time period. If anything the husky sound slabs that permeate Le Cinque Stagioni may be even thicker and more outré than other forays in this genre.

One reason may be that during the CD’s 76 minute running time, the members of Der Finger use more than one instrument each. Edward Sivkov plays bass clarinet, baritone saxophone and bass domra, a long-necked Russian lute with metal strings; Evgenia Sivkova is expressive using drums and tenor saxophone; while Anton Efimov limits himself to bass guitar and effects. It’s feasible that several instrumental tones are overdubbed; giving the electronic-tinged tracks and the set’s duskier and even darker and foggier sound. At the same tine though, the three’s ambidextrous instrumentation allows sections of some sequences to include reed challenges and others contrapuntal string challenges. Still among the murky grinds, wave-form drones and shrill overblowing, so that the tracks’ allusions to other improvised musics appear more obvious. In fact part of the introduction to “Verwirrung”, the album’s first track, suggests the sort of ornate over-the-top arrangements that characterized mid-20th century Russian orchestral performances. When that Stalinist era timbral overflow dovetails into a thumping beat Der Finger’s Metal-Orchestral parameters are established, Just as the unrelenting synthesized drone continues throughout the piece, so is the cemented mass frequently breached by high-pitched reed shrills and slurs as well as intense crossed flanges’ from the string players. At the same time Sivkova’s intermittent percussion strategy which highlights conga and rototom-like concussions as well as bass drum and cymbal hits is diffuse enough so that some tones cutting through the viscous interface suggest Ayler as much as Anthrax.

These hocketing insertions, as well as the relentless buzzing voltage washes, continue to arise during the disc’s other selections. On “Zweitracht” for instances, sluicing bass guitar work from Efimov, simple melodic reed insertions from both saxophonists as well as flanged guitar distortion join with enough violent pounding that firecracker could be forced to explode with the passion expressed. Still, the penultimate “Beamtenherrschaf” includes body-slamming drumming that blends with the electric synthesis. The resulting interface would seem impervious to an atomic blast even as string twangs and frails plus sharp, snarling reed vamps add touches of humanism to the program.

Tough enough to attract Metal fans, but with some respite for Free Jazzers, CDs like this and bands like Der Finger provide hope that head-banging music doesn’t have to be empty headed,

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Verwirrung 2. Zweitracht 3. Unordnung 4. Beamtenherrschaft 5. Realpolitik

Personnel: Edward Sivkov (bass clarinet baritone saxophone and bass domra); Anton Efimov (bass guitar and effects) and Evgenia Sivkova (drums and tenor saxophone)