SPEAKEASY with UTE WASSERMANN / PHIL MINTON / THOMAS LEHN / MARTIN BLUME – @ Konfrontation (Confront CCS 99; UK) Featuring Ute Wassermann & Phil Minton on vocals & birdcall whistles, Thomas Lehn on analogue synth and Martin Blume on drums & percussion. There are only a few musicians who still play, let alone concentrate on analogue synthesizer. Although it was much more popular in the mid-seventies when it first became commercially available, so few have continued to specialize in its playing. Thomas Lehn continues to explore sounds with this synth and works in several bands like Konk Pack and a trio with John Butcher & Matt Shipp. For as long as I’ve known of & heard British vocalist, Phil Minton, I have been a fan of his extreme vocal antics and directing of his Feral Choir. The other vocalist here, Ute Wassermann, is someone that I don’t know very well, although she has also worked with Furt and fORCH, who have releases on Evan Parker’s PSI label, as well as singing for the composer Chaya Czernowin. Percussionist, Martin Blume, has also gotten around and worked with Philipp Wachsmann, Jim Denley and Luc Houtkamp.
This seems to the second disc from Speakeasy, the first one came out in 2009. This disc was recorded at Festival Konfrontation in Nickelsdorf, Austria in July of 2016. As someone who truly appreciates those wacky, occasionally extreme vocals, this CD makes me smile. I recognize Mr. Minton’s often hilarious cartoon character-like voice, yet this is just a part of his extended palette. Both vocalists, the synth and percussion sound marvelous together, carefully weaving their sounds tightly around one another. I like that much of this is on the quieter side, giving the quartet time to slowly unfold and improvise carefully together, the interaction is often subtle yet varied so we to listen closely to hear everything that is going on. It is often fascinating and rarely too dense or over-the-top. This is one the better improv discs I’ve heard recently although it does take some patience and close listening to hear all that is going on here above and below the surface. – Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG