Posted on by jdoerck | Posted in Review | Tagged , , ,

Baggerboot appears to begin where Frutas Azules concludes, with Gottschalk at last asserting herself, although Völker appears a bit more reserved. This isn't unexpected either. Wuppertal-native Gottschalk was part of the late German bassist Peter Kowald's Ort-Ensemble and since then has improvised with a wide range of stylists including British saxophonist Evan Parker, American bassist William Parker, and Chinese guzheng player Xu Feng Xi . Not that the powerful contributions of Jacquemyn can be downplayed. The bassist, who lives in Brakel, Belgium, is not only a sculptor who assaults tree trunks with axe and chainsaw, but for the past 20 years has joined musical forces with improvisers ranging from Belgium-based saxophonist André Goudbeek and Kowald to American saxophonist Jeffrey Morgan and French percussionist Lê Quan Ninh.

Unlike the nearly effete, formalist improvisation of Frutas Azules, the three tracks entitled "Cascades" I through III on this CD are no-holds-barred improv, consequently running the risk of failure as well as success. The former taints "Cascade I", which is overlong at more than 25 minutes, and almost submerges it beneath energized solipsism. Sharp spiccato squeals from the high strings, multiphonic tremolo from the accordion, and dissonant ratcheting buzzing from the double bass too often shove the textures into subterranean percussiveness and reverb. While a singular fiddle tone is almost flute-like and some ratcheting stops from Jacquemyn sound as if he's taking a metal comb to his strings, the concentrated polyphony is nearly wearying.

Almost as extended, "Cascades III" is a focused, final variant which defines the trio's improvisational skills. It follows the 12-minute interlude of "Cascades II", which highlights bulging bellows from Völker, whistling stress and unison vocalizing from Gottschalk, plus Jacquemyn's string rapping. On the concluding variation, though, as the fiddle's glissandi turn to extended falsetto arpeggios, the bassist introduces dissonance while the accordionist's reeds take on definite baritone saxophone resonance. With Völker maintaining a throbbing ostinato made up of minimalist, organ-like textures, Gottschalk's vibrant strokes reference a hoedown and Jacquemyn's gravelly tones rotate to a series of descending arco stops. Down-pedaling from fortissimo and prestissimo pitches, the trio—especially the violinist—splinters sounds into their upper partials, contracting timbres into shrill whistles, then dead silence.

Defining the triumphs and consequences of energized improv, Baggerboot impresses with the trio's willingness to experiment. More consistent throughout, the more formal Frutas Azules doesn't attain the same level of accomplishment.