Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fred Lonberg-Holm & Piotr Melech: Coarse Day

Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello)
Piotr Melech (clarinet)

Coarse Day (Multikulti; 2011)

Avant garde duos are pretty prevalent at the moment, no matter what the instrument(s). But what makes the best ones stand out is the quality of the musicianship and the depth of the material.


As with my earlier discussion on the Daniel Levin/Tim Daisy release, The Flower and The BearFred Lonberg-Holm and Piotr Melech have created a richly diverse and highly challenging document that is both absorbing and thought provoking.

Lonberg-Holm, a member of various outfits in Chicago (most notably The Vandermark 5) and Melech, a growing presence of the Polish avant garde scene (including his trio Enterout) together, explore a strange world of soundscapes on Coarse Day. It's a densely packed session with movements that are multi-layered and demanding of the listener's concentration.

"Cloudburst" is pops and crackles with a sense of adventure. Lonberg-Holm maneuvers up and down the scales like a cat stuck in an aqueduct. Melech's clarinet(s) create an echo chamber that is both haunting and exhilarating. "Tangle Of Loops" feels almost anti-avant garde. I felt Longberg-Holm and Melech have a number of exchanges that are humorous and well improvised. My mind drifted into a jovial exploration into Raymond Scott (although I'm certain that was not the composers intentions). The use of electronics and sound manipulation on "Tangle Of Loops" gives the piece a schizophrenic edge that is genuinely exciting.

"Mildew Gourmets" moves out melodically in a somber spiritual pattern, similar to Coltrane's "A Love Supreme." It's hypnotic and relaxing tone is a calming departure point for the session and provides further insight into the duo's composition talents.

Coarse Day while challenging, is an album that once it sinks in--will become a fixture on your stereo. Lonberg-Holm and Melech have created an album that is filled with improvisation but also subtle accessibility that deserves intense listening. Haunting, beautiful and emotional.

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