C-Schulz & Hajsch | C-Schulz & Hajsch

Sonig | CD

Carsten Schulz and Hans-Juergen Schunk are prime movers in the Cologne scene which, to those of us on the outside, is nominally centred on A-Musik. They've been keeping a low profile and could hardly be described as prolific but, such is their influence, their names may be familiar even if their music is not. Both were part of the seminal Cologne improv group Kontakta with, amongst other key Cologne players, Monika Westpfahl who also contributes to this release. Perhaps better known for their contribution to the Microstoria remix album 'Reprovisers', they have not previously released an album together but both have solo albums; on Entenpfuhl and Extreme and on Quiet Artworks respectively.

On the face of it the pieces on 'C-Schulz & Hajsch' are simply collages composed from field recordings, concrete sounds and acoustic instruments; predominantly harmonium and organ but also horn, flute, clarinet and, occasionally, piano and guitar. "A reduced set of musical parameters" we're told and, as it turns out, all the elements are easily recognizable; no apparent attempt has been made to disguise the various sound sources. Perhaps nothing unusual then, but take a listen; C-Schulz and Hajsch, their compass aligned according to their own set of rules, guide us through a landscape which at first seems familiar but which reveals, at every turn, a suprising morphology.

The pieces seem to be as much about the space around the sounds as the sounds themselves. Breathe in and you feel as if you could inhale a draught from the recording itself. A skillful equilibrium is evident throughout, a fine balance between tension and release. A perfectly placed harmonium drone dampens any gathering forward motion; the undertow from a receding wave which soaks the energy from the next. The sound horizon shifts continually, one moment drawing the listener in (a match flares, twigs crackle in a bonfire, bricks rub together) the next it recedes to offer a diametric perspective (a cheer lifts the crowd at a football match).

As the final track expires it leaves senses re-attuned and allows an external coda to emerge from the 'silence'; the wind outside rattling the window frames, voices engaged in mundane conversation filtering down from upstairs, the run-out-groove itself. Listen.

[GM]



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