Friday, February 28, 2014

Waclaw Zimpel Quartet - Stone Fog [For Tune]

Waclaw Zimpel - clarinets
Krzysztof Dys - piano
Christian Ramond - double bass
Klaus Kugel - drums






For Tune 2013



Waclaw Zimpel has appeared on this blog a handful of times already (most recently with the Hera XL "Seven Lines"), the fact, in my ears remain very simple - every single project Zimpel dedicates himself to is an artistic success, there's a vision behind every single one of them, a specific between preparation and spontaneity, between passion and thought, and the results continue to be spot on. 

The first two, and the last track on the album are Zimpel's compositions. "Cold Blue Sky" is the perfect title, the piece would also illustrate perfectly any ECM blue-toned cover. The delicate sounds move slowly, gracefully, patiently, with soft ornaments on piano, long arco bass tones, colourful gongs and silver plates resonating in the air and finally the enchanting, crystal-clear clarinet tone. "Old Feet Feel Out The Path" is a definite change of pace, rushed melody filled with some dramatic anxiety, scattered restless notes. 
The next four pieces are credited to the quartet, the music freely exploring the instrumental format and the european tradition of improvisation and chamber classical music. There are passages of dark, brooding minimalism ("One side of my face is colder than the other"), the music coming forward not unlike the shadowy shapes of objects in the fog, melodies emerging out of scattered abstract sound puzles, reaching the boiling intensity and shifting back ("A sudden shift missed"). Zimpel's singing clarinet leads the way, but I'm very much in awe with the understated playing by Krzysztof Dys (just listen to the few, carefully chosen notes he plays in "River Willows Sway"). Kugel's melodic playing, with plenty of percussive accents and shifts adds tension and direction to the music, along with Ramond's arco, distinct, and elegant. The music is bold, with a wide dynamic range, dramatic narration arch. 
The album closes with the last of the three composed pieces "Stone Fog", delicate clarinet melody floating over a choir-like chord structure. Elusive and fragile, ornamental, with a lot of small plates and percussion, bass tones anchoring the melody, impressionistic piano (precious solo) and pure, voice-like clarinet. Music flowing gently, back into the mystery.

Music on "Stone Fog" is passionate, if bit introverted. Subtle, fragile and restraint in its beauty, though there's a lot of tension simmering right below the surface which results in few intense outbursts. The quartet does a splendid work floating through the mist, unveiling the music from the shadows and keep the lit spark alive throughout. 

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