© 2017

Keith Rowe / Martin Küchen
The Bakery
MIKROTON CD 46 | 2016

Edition of 300



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1. The Bakery 1
2. The Bakery 2

Keith Rowe electronics, guitar
Martin Küchen alto- and baritone saxophones, radio, iPod

Keith Rowe was invited to a residency that Martin Küchen, through support from the Swedish Arts Council, was granted a few weeks in the autumn of 2013 at the Vor Anker artist residency, Vienna, Austria.

The artist Johannes Heuer and his wife Sandra Baer had invited Martin Küchen for this residency. The artist studio is located in the old Anker bread factory complex in Vienna.

During these weeks work included recordings and concerts with Keith Rowe, both at Anker Brot Fabrik and at the Amann studio in Vienna. This CD is recorded live at Christoph Amann's studio in October; concerts with Matija Schellander, a visit to Radu Malfatti, recordings at a nuclear power plant and in an old water tower and recordings made to the exhibition work of Johannes Heuer.


The Sound Projector, Steve Pescott:
Actually, Messrs Rowe and Küchen have traded frequencies before. But that was within the confines of a trio and the Küchen, Rowe, Wright c.d. was handstamped in triplicate by the ‘Another Timbre’ label back in 2010. On this occasion, the founding father of tabletop guitar disciplines (and radio manipulations) was invited by the table turner and medium of the spectral sax to a residency that was granted via the deep pockets of the Swedish Arts Council some three years ago. The catch though is that the roles have been somewhat reversed, with Keith’s guitar coming as a secondary concern to his electronics prowess, while Martin’s alto and baritones are supplemented by the crackle/murmur of his radio and ipod.

Divided into two segments (at 21.32 and 14.03 mins), The Bakery comes as a perfect melding of analogue wiring/practical electronix with various prepped guitar gestures in which individual voices and ‘noises off’ are well nigh impossible to recognize as workaday instrumentation. Surely the goal of many an improviser. I can detect some scattered wheezings and splutterings of a far away sax (alternating as an anaesthetist’s nightmare) during part two’s latter stages. A culmination of unnervingly grey mid-paced free-prov all told, which, when topping/tailing certain key moments, seems to stretch time like silly putty on repeated listenings.

The Squid's Ear, Brian Olewnick:
For many years, Keith Rowe has been on what amounts to a mission: how to deal with the saxophone, an instrument which doesn't easily lend itself to baggage-shedding, almost insisting on carrying a whiff of the idiomatic, in this case jazz. Brass instruments seem to have an easier time of it, musicians more readily able to abstract the emergent sound enough so as to preclude prior associations. In this regard, Rowe has worked in duo or trio settings with any number of saxophonists, from Evan Parker to John Butcher to Seymour Wright and more, resulting in greater or lesser degrees of "success", though often enough ending in some vaguely uncomfortable "compromise" area.
With Martin Küchen, he's found a partner who's up to the task. Küchen's own work, particularly his solo output, operates between at least two poles. One, which is fine and strong on its own, is an emotional, even Romantic but gritty and sour approach as heard on his "Hellstorm" (Mathka) and would not seem to be a conducive foil for Rowe. The other, however, reliant on extreme techniques and extraneous apparatus (including, as here, radio and iPod) is a very natural fit and works superbly.
There are two tracks, 21+ and 14 minutes, both beautifully recorded at Christoph Amann's studio in Vienna. The first begins darkly, very rich, several layers of electronics, radio and other clatter undergirded by some low baritone sax drones. The music attenuates and expands, almost like a vastly slowed down pulse, Küchen employing breath tones predominantly, Rowe sliding objects over his fret board, once picking up distorted baroque piano, generally keeping matters impressively grim. The pacing is excellent, a bleak landscape constantly unfurling before the listener's ears, imparting both a sense of intrepid exploration and overarching dystopian foreboding. Very, very fine. The second track begins with the most recognizable saxophone playing of the session, a low hum (on alto, I think) with breathy overtones, Rowe contributing rattles and billowy hums alongside. The music subsides into a territory more sparsely occupied than that heard on the preceding cut but also just slightly warmer, some soft, vaguely consonant tones throbbing in the distance, as if the landscape now contains some mammalian life, if not particularly friendly strains.
The Bakery is excellent, serious work, essential for anyone interested in the creations of either musician.

Jazzword, Ken Waxman:
Fellow travelers on the more outré edge of improvised music, veteran Swedish saxophonist Martin Küchen and even more venerable British guitarist Keith Rowe rarely cross paths and record together even less frequently. The Bakery captures one of those occasions and while the 35-minute concert preserves some otherworldly sounds the unwary should be aware that this bakery produces the equivalent of jagged unleavened slices rather than sweetened, sugary jelly doughnuts.
Replete with plenty of silences, the two tracks baked by Rowe, best known for his affiliation with AMM, and Küchen, who has played with figures ranging from Steve Noble to Joe McPhee, rely very little on the sonic shapes one would expect from their respective instruments. With Rowe’s table-top guitar altered with preparations and add-ons and modified with electronics, and textures from his radio plus iPod more prominent than alto and baritone saxophone timbres on Küchen’s part, this CD would never be mistaken for a session with Paul Desmond and Jim Hall. Instead the segmented wiggles, clatters, buzzes and echoes often could be a sound replication of what transpires on the floor of an industrial bakery. Some textures could some from a steel dolly loaded with clanking trays of material shoved across an unfinished warehouse floor. Away from physical properties, heightened processed impulses are more prominent than sporadic string plinks or flat line reed overblowing as well. The climax of the first track in fact comes when sizzling electronic impulses become almost overpowering in their intensity.
Like the arrival of the factory clean-up crew in the early morning hours, interaction on “The Bakery 2” is more weighted and restrained. Although again the rubs and sweeps heard could be sourced from janitors’ brushes and mops, disruptive textures via radio-dial motion and static plus oscillated drones confirm this is no commonplace textural polishing. When gurgling electronics curdle into warbles to meet flat-line reed whistles, the ending is confirmed.
Seekers of elevated high musical drama or carefully plotted interface should find another pastry merchandiser. Ascetic and obdurate types who don’t demand immediate gratification may fare better.

Le Son Du Grisli, Guillaume Belhomme:
A l’automne 2013, Martin Küchen était en résidence à Vienne* pour quelques semaines – combien d'heures passées dans une ancienne boulangerie industrielle ? Ce qui lui laissa le temps d’y inviter Keith Rowe, de l’attendre un peu (de l’entendre venir peut-être) et enfin d’improviser avec lui. L’enregistrement que consigne The Bakery date du 15 octobre 2015.
Dans les studios de Christoph Amann, Küchen mit saxophones alto et baryton – noter qu’il fit usage aussi d’un poste de radio et d’un iPod – au service de notes longues qui l'une après l'autre, avoir été déclenchées par les gestes minutieux de son partenaire. Souvent graves, les souffles enveloppaient alors les grésillements de la guitare et les rumeurs du guitariste : Rowe et Küchen s’entendaient ainsi sur le rythme d’une même respiration.
Aux graves du baryton, l’électronique ajouta ensuite les siens propres avant de se frotter à un alto décidé à se faire entendre davantage. Ce qui n’empêcha pas les silences, entre lesquels une note fragile pouvait tenir quelques secondes, sur un paquet de grisailles électriques ou sur le murmure de parasites. Soufflée il y a un an, la note fragile, quelle qu’elle soit, tient encore : et la promesse du duo et son accord.

freiStil, Andreas Fellinger:
Kurt Liedwart hat wieder einen Schwung Neuerscheinungen aus Moskau ans Licht der Öffentlichkeit gebracht, die sich allesamt durch elektronische oder von Elektronik insprierte Feinmechanik auszeichnen. So schafft er seit Jahren ein internationales Netzwerk an Musikern, seltener auch an Musikerinnen, die sich auf die konsequente Arbeit so minimalistischer wie eigensinniger Strukturen konzentrieren.
Die Schnittmenge von AMM und Angles 9 manifestiert sich im Duo Keith Rowe & Martin Küchen, dessen Debüt the bakery in den Wiener Amann Studios aufgenommen wurde. Kleine Brötchen werden hier quasi in der Mikrowelle gebacken, tonale Verschiebungen sind höchstens unter der Lupe wahrnehmbar, die Klangerzeuger entziehen sich ihrer Definition. Gitarre, Elektronik, Saxofone, Radio, i-Pod, alles wird durch gezielte Transformation seiner ursprünglichen Klangwelt enthoben. Klarheit entsteht durch Diffusion, nichts mehr hat alles zu bedeuten. Rhytmisch legen es Kurt Liedwart & Phil Raymond auf rim an, wobei hinter dem Künstlernamen von Kollegen Liedwart der Mikroton-Labelbetreiber sich verbirgt. Für seine digitalen Zwecke benutzt er im übrigen das von Klaus Filip entwickelte lloopp-Programm, mit dem u.a. auch Christof Kurzmann sein musikalisches Œvre bestreitet. Daneben bedient er die Perkussion – wie auch sein Partner Phil Raymond, der ebenfalls zusätzlich am Computer Platz nimmt.
Etwas kraftvoller gehen Norbert Möslang / Ilia Belorukov / Kurt Liedwart auf sale_interiora zur Sache. Lautstark brutzelt das Soundschnitzel, bis es dunkelbraun wird. Die Sache ist durch, wenn auch noch nicht gegessen; medium rare ist ihre Absicht gar nicht. Der Fieps darf auch bei Gaudenz Badrutt & Christian Müller reinkommen, wenn sich die beiden Eidgenossen ihre Klangpartikel unter strøm setzen. Nach kurzem Aufwärmen kommt bald Stimmung in die Bude, die Festplatten nehmen erhöhte Temperatur an, das Fieber steigt, das Heftige ersetzt das Bedächtige. Aus dem CD-Paket heraus ragt future perfect von Serge Baghdarrians / Boris Baltschun / Burkhard Beins. Ein Haufen an Gerätschaften kommt hier zum Einsatz: Mischpult, E-Gitarre, Delays, Computer, Sampler, Perkussion und Zither. Daraus fabriziert das Trio ein kompaktes Amalgam, ein schlüssiges Sammelsurium aus differenten, ausdifferenzierten Sounds. Und unsicherheitshalber wird das Cover auf Russisch gestaltet. Digitale Expeditionen aus dem besseren Russland laden zur Entdeckung ein.

Bad Alchemy, Rigoberth Dittmann:
KEITH ROWE ist so etwas wie die graue Eminenz der μton-Ästhetik, und The Bakery (mikroton cd 46) sein bereits vierter Auftritt in der Moskauer Reihe. Zu seinen Electronics und Tableguitarsounds bläst MARTIN KÜCHEN mit Alto- & Baritonsax Luftlöcher in die kleinen Brötchen und verziert sie mit Radio und iPod. Das Ganze passierte nämlich während Küchens Atelierstipendium 'vorAnker' 2013 in der ehemaligen Anker Brotfabrik in Wien und drumrum. Brausender Radionoise und ein wummernder Grundton lassen Raum für geharkte, gekratzte Akzente und eine Suggestion von Alltagsgeräuschen. Zum unguten Hirndruck kommt ein zischender Sprühstrahl und das Saxophon beginnt wie stranguliert zu keuchen. Rafft ein neuer Schwarzer Tod die Wiener hin? Wird da Desinfektionsmittel versprüht, blasen da Atmungsgeräte? Rumoren da die letzten Ratten? Niemand spricht. Nur das Radio rauscht, bis der Strom zuende geht. Whens "The Black Death" revisited? Wilde Phantasie? Na klar. Denn sonst gäbe es hier viel Steine nur und wenig Brot.

Vitaly Weekly, Frans de Waard:
The first one of these three releases on Russia's Mikroton is already recorded in 2013 in the Amann Studios in Vienna — a legendary place when it comes to recording improvised music, I should think. On the 15th of October 2013 the eminence grise of the table top guitar Keith Rowe (electronics, guitar) met up with Martin Küchen, also known for his work in the field of improvised music, who brought along his alto- and baritone saxophone, radio and iPod. However long they played, we don't know, since it was edited and mastered by Toshimaru Nakamura. This is quite some interesting work. In 'The Bakery 1', the longer of the two pieces, it all seems to revolve around using none of their normal instruments but all about electronics. We hear the radio waves, and drone like electronics, yet all of this retains the idea of being improvised music. In the other piece, 'The Bakery 2', the saxophones are to be recognized in the early part of the piece, but here too electronics from Rowe, a radio and whatever can be found on Küchen's iPod, seem to take the leading part. It makes all of this quite a different work and one that has quite few obscured sounds, but which slowly unveil upon playing.