By Ken Waxman
Fluidly manoeuvring among minimalism, microtonalism and totally free improv is the French/Japanese/Swiss Der Verboten quartet where each player subordinates the dexterity honed in solo creations into one unconventional, but nuanced 40 minutes of group sound.
Mostly hushed and discordant, the polychromatic textures that result are a direct amplification of a long, on-going partnership between Zürich-based French-Japanese violist Frantz Loriot, who plays with the likes of Christoph Erb and Pascal Niggenkemper and French (prepared) pianist Cédric Piromalli, who has collaborated with Sébastien Boisseau and Will Guthrie among others. This time out, their partnership expands to include two other Swiss stylists, Christian Wolfarth on percussion and, cymbals, who has recorded with Hans Koch and Burkhard Beins; and tenor saxophonist Antoine Chessex, who frequently plays solo concerts.
Beginning with circular drum rolls and cymbal scratches, pizzicato viola string clicks and tremolo pianism “Der Dritte Treffpunkt” soon splinters into a duet of Chessex’s Lee Konitz-pitched saxophone and Loriot’s fiddle peeps that sound identical. Still Piromalli’s tremolo sweeps mated with Wolfarth’s responsive percussion pops characterize their contrapuntal duet ears have to be fully attuned to pick up the shaded implications of each player’s interpretations. This becomes particularly crucial at the mid-point for an almost inaudible group sequence which is equally leisurely and so hushed as to be almost mum. That’s is until a shrill reed tone and clashing strings and a rubbed percussion make the interface louder and move the entire sequence in a linear fashion. With Chessex’s crackles almost identical to wave-form processing, pinched string glissandi more obvious, menacing piano chords and blacksmith-strength drum whacks join until concentric multiphonic currents are audible from all. Reaching a thunderstorm-like crescendo of irregular reed trills, piano key pressure and pointed drumming n the penultimate minutes, the interaction finally figuratively fades into faint soundboard echoes and even fainter saxophone wisps. Creating a stand-alone polyphonic sound journey as the quartet has is anything but verboten.