La rencontre de la voix d’Ute Wassermann (chants d’oiseaux, poésie sonore, borborygmes et chant – superbe !) et des electronics de Richard Barrett débouche dans un univers volatile dans tous les sens du terme. Encore plus que dans son précédent duo avec la trompettiste Birgit Uhler pour le même label, Ute met à profit toute l’intelligence et la sensibilité de son partenaire pour déployer tous les effets de sa volière imaginaire et de ses bruits de bouche. Richard les échantillonne avec humour et à-propos. Leur Pollen (CS 085) en tous points jouissif pour quiconque a les oreilles ouvertes vers l’impro libre, l’électronique, la musique contemporaine (vocale ou non) et un faible pour Phil Minton et compagnie. No multitracking, préviennent les artistes : rien que du temps réel ! Surprenant ! Trop sérieux s’abstenir !
J-M Van Schouwburg (Improjazz)
Richard Barrett first came to my attention as a composer loosely affiliated to the so-called New Complexity movement (Brian Ferneyhough, James Dillon, Michael Finnissy et al.) – an early album of instrumental music by the Australian Elision Ensemble on Etcetera is still well worth seeking out – but realising that spending the best part of a year writing a piece that would require about as much rehearsal time and be over and done with in less time than it takes to make a cup of tea is a noble if somewhat thankless endeavour, he did what most sane mortals would do and took up improvisation. But the music he creates with electronics is the perfect illustration of Radu Malfatti was on about when he rather provocatively compared Evan Parker to Ferneyhough in his 2001 PT interview ("[Evan's] work also is 'unplayable' – at least for others – and he seems to be as interested in virtuosity as good old Brian is"). Unlike his previous albums with Paul Obermayer in Furt, Barrett is teamed up here with Ute Wassermann, whose voice also appears to be at the origin of many of the sounds he conjures up from his boxes of tricks. Once more it's thorny stuff, splats, fizzes and gurgles hurled around the stereo space with glorious (seeming) abandon, but it's somehow more human and touching than Furt. Put that down no doubt to Wassermann, who manages to explore a whole range of whistles, gargles and yodels without ever sounding as if she's dying / giving birth to triplets / trying to stifle an orgasm (delete where appropriate according to the improvising vocalist of your choice). All in all, it's a thrilling ride. As for the cover photography, if that's pollen magnified several thousand times, no wonder I suffer from hay fever. So get your allergy tablets, hankies and inhalers at the ready and get a noseful of this.
Dan Warburton (Paris Transatlantic)
Observing the possibilities of communication and correlation between voice and electronics - the means utilized by Wassermann and Barrett for "Pollen" - is likely to establish new levels of anxiousness if what one expects is just a regular polysource conversation. The extraordinarily wide spectrum of sonorities that this couple is able to produce is at one and the same time spectacular and hardly comprehensible, just like those heterogeneous scientific phenomena watched on Discovery that leave us intrigued but still totally ignorant at the end of the program. Sequences of dissected timbres, quirky outbursts of enthusiastic logorrhoea and clamorous outranging by Wassermann's voice form a monstrous patchwork of unpredictability that won't sound extraneous to those who already familiarized with the vocalist's jargon, which also includes psychotic birds and demented sopranos in illusory trips to omniscience. Barrett's recordings with Furt possess the same fragmented character, yet this collaboration rounds his sonic complexities quite a bit by introducing a give-and-take between humanity and machinery that specifies every event as a sum of trauma, disbelief and sarcasm. Definitely uneasy to digest if one lacks the proper groundwork, "Pollen" is in any case a splendid demonstration of evolutive acceleration, a testament to Wassermann and Barrett's obstinate refusal of the first results during their continuous tries to wreck the barriers that separate composition and improvisation, mostly in favour of the latter but with a perceptible strategy within the apparent mess.
Massimo Ricci (Touching Extremes)
Na Creative Sources Recordings já se conhecia o diálogo vocal de Ute Wassermann com o som granular do trompete de Birgit Ulher. Foi em Kunststoff, disco que as artistas alemãs gravaram para a editora de Ernesto Rodrigues, em 2004. Trompete que se mistura com a voz e confunde com electrónica na procura de um léxico fora dos limites convencionais. E porque não retomar as linhas refinamento e experimentação vocal, agora com electrónica de raiz? Beneficiando da proximidade e do imediatismo que proporciona a actual tecnologia de gravação, a mezzo-soprano Ute Wassermann, figura simultaneamente da new music e da improvisação, expõe o imenso espectro da sua arte ao nível dos registos, do timbre e da articulação, no uso inteligente do espaço disponível, que combina com a chuva de partículas electrónicas que circulam à sua volta, poalha que se agita e depõe em torno das imensas possibilidades da expressão com aparelho vocal, usado enquanto instrumento musical, como faz o britânico Phil Minton, por exemplo. Em Pollen, o trabalho de Wassermann vive de sons minúsculos, cavos e superficiais, guturais e labiais, imitação de pássaros e insectos, apitos, assobios, gorjeios, roncos e rugidos, toda uma imensa variedade de sinais sonoros que estabelecem um entendimento "natural" com a participação do galês Richard Barrett, membro do FURT, duo britânico de electrónica, onde desenvolve um trabalho muito diferente, mais dentro do convencionalismo da electrónica digital comum. Aqui, Richard Barrett utiliza as sofisticadas ferramentas electrónicas de que dispõe, para, com apurada sensibilidade e em tempo real, deixar-se contagiar pela actividade da artista vocal (em Pollen, Wassermann não canta uma única nota) e libertar encadeados de sons humanóides. Estes questionam a inventividade e respondem às provocações de Wassermann, criando uma obra sonora densa, ainda que frágil e transparente, rica em sugestões visuais.
Eduardo Chagas (Jazz e Arredores)
Interesting duo of voice (Wassermann) and electronics (Barrett), from the Creative Sources legion. The fact the voice is really central in most of the drafts drives the whole music into a specific direction, it’s quite funny how they work on it outlining every track around it. The style of Wassemann is apparently close to that of his label mate Jean-Michael van Shouwburg but a thoughtful ear will immediately notice this one is less throaty/baritonal and above all their improvisational approach is really different. This’ not exactly electro-acoustic music, the sound matter here is to be located in the improvisational/experimental area, above all when it involved some enlightened vocalists of the seventies or some present sound artist like Cristophe Migone. Just less ambient and above all less oriented toward sound-art. As you should have already understood by what we said so far, if you were thinking to Meredith Monk, Cathy Barbarian or that style of vocalization just forget it, for while as I’ve said the sound of the voice has a primary function, the use of electronics in this case is mimetic, sure, but at the same time is really important. Abstraction and improvisation play a big role in the composition of these tracks, some short sound rides, fast and slow vocalizations face some similar non intrusive intervention of the laptop, it’s really hard to detect who’s doing what. The final result as I’ve said at the beginning of the review is interesting.
Andrea Ferraris (Chain DLK)