Günter/Halliwell/Wastell | +minus [first meeting]
Trente Oiseaux | CD
Bernhard Günter's reputation is well established, with his intensely quiet and meditative soundworks receiving widespread critical acclaim. Less well known, Mark Wastell and Graham Halliwell have performed as an improvising duo since 2002, the pair having first met at a workshop run by Eddie Prévost in 1996.
Their first encounter as the trio +minus bristles with activity. Like an aural canvas Günter lays a substantial ground – developed in part from some of his earlier "vintage abstract noise compositions" – over which Halliwell and Wastell layer delicate brushwork in the form of alto sax, feedback, amplified textures and gently caressed prayer bowls and gongs.
A canvas is a fitting metaphor for the four pieces that comprise '[first meeting]'. Like a suite of paintings, the four tracks gently tease out a series of interlinked themes that Günter, Halliwell and Wastell shape into a captivating series of sonic representations of delicate beauty.
Opening with intense activity, '[Minus] One' contrasts a thick, gelatinous base with an overlay of bristling, staccato lines and spider-like scratchings; the audio equivalent of taking one of Paul Klee's lines for a walk. The second track '[Plus] One' further develops the themes laid down in the first, adding the warmth of Wastell's bowls and bells before spilling into passages dripping with thick, dribbles of sound.
The trio maintain a careful balance throughout the CD's entirety, building from hesitant beginnings, carefully adding sounds layer by layer, to create four gently evolving works that clearly underline a trio whose enviable ability to musically communicate and interact suggest considerable further potential.