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Erb/Baker/Zerang

Even though this album by Swiss artist Christoph Erb (reeds) and Chicagoans, Jim Baker (synth & piano) and Michael Zerang (percussion) is often centered on avant-garde sound-shaping implementations, their keen use of space looms as an added instrument. Therefore, it's not always what is stated that counts because the trio leaves room for interpretation and as a result, the program isn't clouded with excesses or superfluous content. Indeed, unorthodox and spiked with minimalism, the musicians explore the capabilities of their instruments via this polytonal endeavor that tenders an undulating environment, spawned by buzzing frameworks and laconic tonal swashes.

The electro-acoustic foundation is an amalgamation of gruff timbres, analog electronics and oddball breakouts. It's perhaps a bit more playful in scope and not overly-cerebral, although these two factors align rather effectively during the course of events. "Tauch," is a prime example of the trio's craft, yet each piece offers various perspectives. Here, Erb's sublime and at times haunting bass clarinet lines ride atop Baker's accenting piano phrasings, tinted by Zerang's colorific percussion work instilled with creaky cymbals and liquefying type qualities.

"Tauch" skirts the perimeter of various fronts. Whether the musicians propose a wistful gait or allude to dour circumstances, the invention and vibrancy translates into a buoyant flow, dappled with subtle surprises. Moreover, the artists goad each other during their dialogues amid spurious developments and fragmented subplots.

Not for the casual listener, but the group's musical mutations summon a concentrated interpretation of the material. Hence, the listening experience may be akin to solving a puzzle, where more clues are divulged on subsequent spins.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Erb/Baker/Zerang
  • CD Title: Erb/Baker/Zerang
  • Featured Track: Tauch
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2011
  • Record Label: Veto Records
  • Musicians: Christoph Erb, tenor saxophone, bass clarinet / Jim Baker, analog synthesizer and piano / Michael Zerang, multiple percussion
  • Rating: Four Stars
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