BBB: Future Perfect - Reviews

Kurt Liedwart's Mikroton label keeps releasing music by broad-minded artists whose vision is served by electroacoustic palettes where stimulating sound waves and quasi-organic motility are regarded as a self-enhancing silence. In Future Perfect, the initial physical response originates an ascension across subsequent stages of intuitive comprehension that's finalized in half an hour. More and more frequently this appears to be the ideal length in such a sonic ambit, provided that the textural juxtapositions - and relative consequences - come from individuals who are ready. Not only technically. This "triple B" unit leaves no doubt in that sense. One immediately recognizes the directness of a message as proportional to its depth; this coincides with the amalgamation of the sources to a point of, so to speak, "nowhere mind". You don't care anymore about where the guitar is, or who created that hum, while merged with a joint resonance. The perceived phenomena are noted as remarkable for a split second, but there is no real need to study and file them; instinct works alone. As always, a (mostly useless) description might use pictorial distractions: elongated pitches, mild distortion, stretched partials, noises firstly greeted as gently intrusive that become piercingly nasty a little later. The pulses may be minimal, yet each gesture weighs an awful lot. Gossamer drones and gradual variations in color and dynamics appear at the same time intentional and entirely natural. Quiet concentration prevails, the performers definitely aware of their role of aural architects inside a short fragment of timelessness. These experiential transmissions are defined by accuracy and humbleness.
- Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes -

Future Perfect is a set of music from Berlin-based musicians, to some extent a crossover between minimal electronica and minimal improvisation. The reduced percussionist Burkhard Beins is joined by Serge Baghdassarians, who plays an electric guitar and mixing desk with various digital delay effects; and Boris Baltschun, who works with computer and sampler. Beins is well known to us from Phosphor and many other minimal playing events, and Baltschun played on Hanno Leichtmann's fine 2013 record called Minimal Studies, but Serge Baghdassarians is a new name in these pages. Serge and Boris often work together, and indeed have been collaborating since 1999. They're often more associated with installations, sound art, and performance art, rather than with conventional "music performance", if that means anything any more. Even this trio, if we can call it that, is quite an ad-hoc and very sporadic thing in terms of commitment. This is only the third time they've done it, the previous meets being in 2003 (documented on the Labor comp for Charhizma) and in 2006, when they made a trio record for Absinth Records. They don't even play at live events any more now, and have taken their sullen, broody work into the artificial zone of the studio.
Three tracks of lengthy slow explorations will reward the listener with about an hour of low-key but surprisingly intense and dense sounds. Beins's ultra-restrained zither plucks and gentle percussion actions occasionally add texture, notes, and patterns, but mostly the works are dominated by these non-stop continual digital drones, hums and crackles. Small variations gradually grow out of the processes by which they’re operating, and advance the listener a little further down the conveyor belt. It's as if we were in a large and vacant art gallery, watching coloured shapes under very subdued lighting, where either we or the sculptures are moving in a highly kinetic way, in slow motion. My favourite one is the middle track called 'n-eck' which is probably the richest and most elaborate of the works here, though you may prefer the simplicity and stark tones of 'futur 2'. The album feels like a sustained meditation on something, where the participants are perhaps not really sure what they're thinking about or seeing, but maybe together they can reach some shared understanding of it.
- Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector -

Alongside fellow Germans Serge Baghdassarians using mixing desk, delays and guitar plus Boris Baltschun's computer and sampler, Future Perfect was recorded during 2008 and 2009, and then mixed by Baghdassarians and Baltschun during the later year and 2015. It remains in the abstract orbit. (...) The three-track Future Perfect is more abstract than the other CD (Chris Abrahams & Burkhard Beins: Instead Of The Sun). Paradoxically though because string instruments are in use, like a visually impaired person identifying an accustomed sound, numerous aural sign posts exist along the abstract improvisational routes. The most pronounced instance of this is on the concluding "futur 2" where a solid lower-case drone is intersected by faint drum beats and string plinks. The effect is rather like observing the undulations of a heart monitor where the blurry resonations are interrupted to confirm a patient's vital signs. A more spectacular instance of electro-acoustic interaction emerges on "n-eck" however. Here the progressive acceleration of oscillated drones is balanced by occasional guitar flanges, zither scratching and percussive abrasions. Eventually the unyielding mass breaks up into granulated vibrations leaving behind a sense of accomplished buoyancy.
- Ken Waxman, Jazzword -

Das uns von absinthRecords her bekannte Trio aus dem 1972 in Fürth geborenen Berliner SERGE BAGHDASSARIANS, dem zwei Jahre jüngeren, aus Bremen stammenden Berliner BORIS BALTSCHUN und dem niedersächsischen Berliner BURKHARD BEINS verwendete für Future Perfect das Futur II, die vollendete Zukunft. Unter Einsatz von Mixing Desk, Delays, E-Gitarre, Computer, Sampler, Percussion & Zither entsteht der Dröhnscape-Triptychon 'Futur 1' - 'N-Eck' - 'Futur 2' mit gegongten Tupfen und tickender Sinuswelle. Ausgedehnter Nachhall wird ausgekostet, so dass sich mehrere Dröhnspuren schichten, dunkel gewellte, sirrende und brodelige. Beins akzentuiert diese stehend vibrierenden und rieselnden Dröhn- und anschwellenden Feedbackwellen im Mittelteil mit Zither und sporadisch gleichmäßigem Beckenschlag. Der dritte Part bringt wieder Gongtupfer auf gedämpftem Fond zu schleifenden und blasenden Geräuschen und kleinen perkussiven Gesten. Das verschafft einem die gute Zeit, darüber nachzudenken, was zur stabilen Stützung eines Körpers notwendig ist und wie es wohl klingen mag, wenn der letzte Ton verschwendet und verklungen sein wird. Baghdassarians & Baltschun, erfahrene Triangulatoren und Topographen, mit "Bodybuilding" gemeinsam Karl-Sczuka-Preisträger 2012 und auch gemeinsam Villa Aurora Stipendiaten 2013, stellen gern solche Fragen: Wie klingt ein Meter? Wie klingt Eddie Ate Dynamite, Good Bye Eddie? Wie wird etwas abgewickelt? Nichts gegen Musik, die einem zu Denken gibt.
- Rigobert Dittmann, Bad Alchemy -

Burkhard Beins spielt mit Boris Baltschun und Serge Baghdassarians auf 'Future Perfect' ein wunderbares kleines Set, das mich an die grosse Zeit der Berliner Echtzeit-Szene erinnert (könnte daran liegen, dass die Aufnahmen 2008 in Berlin gemacht wurden).
- Diedrich Diederichsen, Spex -

Future Perfect is (I think) the eighth album involving both Serge Baghdassarians (mixing desk, delays and electric guitar) and Boris Baltschun (computer, sampler), and the second by this trio with Burkhard Beins of Polwechsel and The Sealed Knot (percussion, zither).
The trio are part to the Berlin-centric Echtzeitmusik scene, which disclaims the established binaries of "'Improvised Music', 'Free Jazz', 'New Music', 'Experimental Music' and so on" (, with both Beins and Baltschun in the ranks of the ur-Echtzeitmusik Splitter Orchester: cf. Mikroton's Echtzeitmusik Berlin comp, which provides a decent primer.
Future Perfect is a decade-due follow-up to the trio's snappily-titled debut, Zur Stabilen Stützung Eines Körpers Ist Es Notwendig, Dass Er Mindestens Drei Auflagenpunkte Hat, Die Nicht In Einer Geraden Liegen (absinthRecords, 2006). That album's title says something about a stable body requiring three points of support, so the trio evidently feel they're onto something lasting.
Apparently they no longer perform live, preferring to collaborate in the studio where "single sound events - either derived from close-miked objects, instrumental or electronic sources - became starting points for collective multi-track pieces," of which this short album has but three, "futur 1", "n-eck" and "futur 2", all wrapped up in 30:21.
"futur 1" is an electro-acoustic variant of the sort of spacious long-form improvisations conducted by groups like Circadia and Mural, beginning with deep, long-resonating gong-strike reverb washing over over a muzzy flux of piercingly stridulant high-pitch and fluctuating mid-range synth tones. It eventually locks into an abstract kind of glitch groove, like amplified vinyl run-out, and cuts out as abruptly as a needle lifting.
"n-eck", the longest piece at 12:35, begins with its electronic pitches more clearly separated into piercing sustains and oscillatory surges that island Beins' small percussion sounds and Baghdassarians' nonchalant guitar picking. The electronica levels then fluctuate dramatically, cleared of obfusc sound layers when pushing into the red, leaving only clean-toned tinnitus pitches that yaw disconcertingly, enveloping injected test-tone vibrations.
"futur 2" is the album's subtlest piece. With deep frame drum hits studding tremulous machine oscillation, slow-drip water sounds and fly-fast insect buzzing, it could be a remix of Tomoko Sauvage's watery take on electro-acoustic music, or a field-recorded microcosmos.
This is a terrific album, my favourite among a batch of Mikroton releases that also included The Kitchen: recordings by Keith Rowe (electronics, guitar) and Martin Küchen (alto and baritone saxophones, radio, iPod) edited in post-production by Toshimaru Nakamura – highly recommended for fans of AMM, European Lowercase improvisation or Onkyokei (as, indeed, is Future Perfect). And heads-up for a forthcoming album by George Lewis & Splitter Orchester, Creative Construction SetTM.
- Tim Owen, Dalston Sound -

...heraus ragt future perfect von Serge Baghdassarians / 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.
- Andreas Fellinger, freiStil -

In an interview with Signal to Noise, Burkhard Beins mentions, "Bowing a cymbal and turning a knob are activities which require two kinds of attention, too different from each other not to get in each other's way." He is discussing the difference of his early approach to separate his work with "electronics" and percussion. Here on Future Perfect he has four extra hands in Serge Baghdassarians (mixing desk, delays, electric guitar) and Boris Baltschun (computer, sampler) to craft a fusion of enduring sound sculpture.
Out the gate with "Futur 1," a trembling, amorphous blob of low-end rolls along with slight feedback on the opposite end of the spectrum, while Beins offers the occasional muted gong strike. As the bass fades away near the three-minute mark, Beins turns the musical chapter with the single strike of a higher pitched gong. New elements of hiss, purring hard drives, diffused cymbal rolls are introduced as gradually and carefully as possible until becoming reasonably unhinged with a sonic rain bird sprinkler panning across the stereo field. Baghdassarians adds sporadic single-string guitar plucks to "N-Eck," a similar mix of cliffs and valleys rooted for the majority of the piece on a single C. Other sounds casually drift in and out to produce marginally dizzying overtone sets until the work disappears into a wisp. "Futur 2" incorporates muffled bass drum thumps and a feint polyrhythmic tick with an even sparser selection of whirs and stunted power-ons and rustles.
Though clocking in at a short 31 minutes, Future Perfect makes a lasting impression of the balance between "electro" and "acoustic" and "less is more" aesthetic. It is a patient, meditative, psychoacoustic (walk around your room while listening to "N-Eck" to experience all kinds of aural magic) and deceptively complex collection of works.
- Dave Madden, The Squid's Ear -

Baghdassarians and Baltschun play long form sounds, sometimes a bit raw and uncontrolled, but also with a well-placed crackle here and there, and all along Beins adds his own sparse percussion bits. You may think this would lead to music that is all careful and/or even somewhat lower in volume, but that's not the case. This trio plays around with dynamics and throughout they are careful, not because they are shy to make a sound, but because they position everything with great thought somewhere in the mix.
- Frans De Waard, Vital Weekly -

C'est donc a moi qu'on a demande de dechiffrer cette couverture du trio d'improvisateurs Serge Baghdassarians / Boris Baltschun / Burkhard Beins. Mais je seche. Oui mais en echange je n'attends pas pour ajouter que ce sont des prises berlinoises, & qui datent de 2008 a 20... M'excuserez-vous d'avoir failli a ma mission?
D'autant que j'ajouterais en plus que c'est un CD que je recommande a ceux qui (comme moi ?) ont pu decreter un jour qu'en fait l'impro electroacoustique bah c'etait pas la panacee. En piste 1 ca crepite mais pas assez pour remuer un lievre de Mars mais voila que tout a coup ca vous cueille (pour moi ca a ete des les premieres secondes de la plage 2). Sans doute l'effet des stries electroniques qui va si bien avec la guitare du bout des doigts de Baltschun ou avec le battement de la grosse caisse de Beins. Toujours plus loin (piste 3), le trio depasse toutes nos (mes) attentes, avec un ordinateur qui joue les pleureuses magnifiques. Le petit drone tient bon et son futur a l'air d'avoir au moins trente ans : c'est peut-etre la son secret !
- Pierre Cecile, Le Son Du Grisli -

Mikroton est un label aux productions tres experimentales, generalement proches des musiques improvisees, aussi notre selection de productions issues de cette structure et susceptibles de faire l'objet d'une chronique est un peu compliquee. Au milieu de productions incluant Keith Rowe, Norbert Moslang ou encore Strom, des artistes dont nous avons deja pu parler sur ces pages, on retient finalement cette collaboration entre Serge Baghdassarians, Boris Baltschun et Burkhard Beins. On decouvre à cette occasion les 2 premiers qui ont l'habitude de travailler ensemble, et on retrouve le percussionniste allemand connu pour son travail au sein du trio Perlonex.
Concernant la repartition des roles, Boris Baltschun est ici a l'electronique, Serge Baghdassarians est a l'electronique et guitare, tandis que Burkhard Beins est a la cithare et logiquement aux percussions. L'album est compose de 3 pieces, s'ouvrant et se fermant par Futur 1 et Futur 2, placant N-Eck dans le role de la transition.
Le lien entre Futur 1 et Futur 2 n'etant pas evident, nous allons evoquer chacune de ces pieces individuellement. Futur 1 ouvre donc l'album sur un drone ponctue de percussions metalliques et souffles/textures et sifflements electroniques. Le style est minimaliste, le tempo est lent, plus proche de l'ambient que des musiques improvisees telles qu'on est habitue a les trouver. C'est peut-etre pour cela que l'on apprecie tout particulierement cet album, joliment equilibre entre composants electroniques et acoustiques en melant bruitages proches d'insectes electroniques et coups de gong. N-Eck est peut-etre un peu plus classique, avec des sonorites plus facilement identifiables, a commencer par la guitare de Serge Baghdassarians, entre claquements de basse et pincements de cordes. L'accumulation de bruitages est ici plus importante, alignant textures gresillantes, diverses tonalites electroniques oscillantes, crepitements et grincements metalliques pour nous laisser a mi parcours avec simple nappe lineaire. La seconde moitie reprend plus ou moins le meme principe tout en restant sur une certaine douceur.
Mais sur ce terrain de la douceur, c'est bien Futur 2 qui sort vainqueur, s'appuyant essentiellement sur une nappe feutree et une lente et sourde percussion. Les autres bruitages brillent par leur finesse, leur precision : gouttes d'eau, entrechocs, frottements/roulements metalliques, sifflements electroniques.
Avec ses improvisations electro-acoustiques, le trio esquisse une ambient fantasmagorique, minimaliste et envoutante.
- Fabrice Allard, Ether Real -

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