Polwechsel & Klaus Lang

Unseen
ezz-thetics 1016

Although a self-contained unit which during the last decade has stabilized into a strings and percussion quartet, German-Austrian Polwechsel sometimes reconfigures its exercises in microtonality by adding another instrumental voice. So Unseen’s three extended tracks not only feature Polwechsel – cellist Michael Moser, bassist Werner Dafeldecker and Burkhard Beins and Martin Brandlmayr playing cymbals and percussion – but also Austrian composer, improviser, and academic Klaus Lang on church organ.

Lang who is known for his operas and organ concerts, adds swelling tremolo created by the pipes and ranks of the instrument situated in St. Lambrecht, Austria to the mostly eviscerated twits and twitters from the other instruments. Using the inflections created by sonic reverberations within the spatial properties of the building, the pipe organ adds shape and depth to the other players’ reductionism. Although the exposition on each of the tracks balances on organ shuffles only on Moser’s “No sai cora-m fui endortmitz” are the affiliated string vibrations powerful enough to almost take over the narrative. Yet the eventual outcome is connective rather than challenging. By its finale the church-embedded instrument’s shudders merely amplify the whistling and droning echoes created by string double strokes and slides.

On the lengthier pieces the pipes and ranks’ pseudo-ecclesiastical outflow is divided into wave-form swabs of different durations and dynamics. That means, as on Lang’s “Easter Wings” that oscillated swabs of different durations pull back enough to reveal cello string squeaks plus castanet-like claps and bell-peaking clangs from the percussionists that infer lower-case variances. This voltage juddering then turns metallic, before dissolving. Dafeldecker’s “Redeem” begins with a sequence of church music-infused organ stops that swell from piercing treble ranks amid feathery shakes from the idiophones and gradual string section acceleration to tremolo pitches. Expanding the integrated sound palate to a rainbow of sound colors, by mid-point the contrasts from percussion, strings and keyboard have connected to solid undulations. Finally the concentrated sequence narrows into a spray of backwards whooshing timbres, where along with higher pitches singular string scratches, organ pealing and forceful drum slaps can be heard.

In the past Polwechsel members have asked various guests to join the quartet’s sound making with varying results. Unseen on the other hand is an experiment that works.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Easter Wings 2. No sai cora-m fui endortmitz 3. Redeem

Personnel: Klaus Lang (church organ); Michael Moser (cello); Werner Dafeldecker (bass) and Burkhard Beins and Martin Brandlmayr (cymbals and percussion)