INDUCTION - REVIEWS

The trio, percussionist Burkhard Beins, bassist Werner Dafeldecker and John Butcher have worked together before for a while, most notably in the group Polwechsel. On 'Induction' the music toggles between minimal to maximal, with all sorts of interactions between. Towards the end of the first track, 'circulation', there is a tremendous amount of percussion and rumbling bass, while Bucher fires on all cylinders, playing notes far beyond the typical range of the saxophone. Prior to these final moments of the track, there is a long accumulation of instrumental ideas and approaches. Side 2 begins with 'connection', starting with sounds drawn from the drums, then the sax, and finally the bass in succession. They then build to a ringing drone interrupted by eruptive sounds from Butcher and Dafeldecker. The music is tense, even somewhat aggressive. The following up 'conversion' is a short interlude that opens up the space a bit, leading to 'confluence', which is a denser piece that in a sense straddles the darkness of the first one with the chain interactions of the second. The piece is an impressionistic sound collage, with many colorful tones mixing into unexpected combinations.
- Paul Acquaro, The Free Jazz Blog -

Induction is then not from the John Butcher Festival at Ausland, but was recorded in June 2019, across consecutive dates in Leipzig & Berlin (with the Berlin set placed first on the recording). It's also an LP — & I guess I've spent so much time with downloads lately that the physical release format has become a virtual non-factor for me, although it should probably be noted that I haven't actually auditioned the vinyl product.... However, the download was obviously sufficient to make a strong impression: Induction is basically a sax trio reprising & extending Butcher's work with Polwechsel, featuring Polwechsel co-founder Werner Dafeldecker on double bass, along with current member Burkhard Beins on percussion. (Butcher himself joined Polwechsel in the 1990s, prior to Beins, and left in 2009, i.e. shortly before I began this project.) But while Polwechsel deals with composed music, Induction is improvised. And Beins himself was first mentioned here in a review of Membrane (also with Butcher, also improvised...) in July 2015, in an entry that also cites Polwechsel's Traces of Wood (released in 2013, but as noted then, Butcher's participation was before my time here...). I hadn't featured Dafeldecker otherwise, but he has e.g. a new duo album with Roy Carroll, Paroxysm recorded in February 2020, typically clear & concentrated expression, process oriented with a tendency toward minimalism.... So Induction tackles the classic "sax trio" format, but refigures it into very different music. And while Butcher had tackled the format in e.g. The Apophonics on Air (including pace the previous entry...), that album does involve a synth — whereas Induction is basically acoustic, "basically" in that the middle two tracks (of four) involve close mic'ing, first of the percussion & then of feedback saxophone as well. Such a close mic'ing situation can act as something of a "substitute" for electronics, but also serves to amplify acoustics per se (rather than synthesizing sound...) — there's thus a sort of "lowercase" concept at work in this music, even as it can become loud or aggressive. And such quasi-lowercase aggression can be quite apparent on another Beins album, Sawt Out (reviewed here in March 2019, including the only prior explicit mention of Dafeldecker here, as part of its production team...) around trumpeter Mazen Kerbaj, also in close amplification: Although the two albums can make very different impressions, the noisier Sawt Out does correspond to the middle tracks of Induction, especially the third, or at least parts of Sawt Out do, pace its more ostinato-insistent character, reveling more directly in specific technical explorations.... Induction is more subtle & transitory, though, projecting a powerful ceremonial character: Gongs & bent metal provide an immediate sense of anticipation, while various buzzing resonances suggest a ritual gravity. It can be aggressive in its own way, and comes off as a very substantial album (despite its relative brevity...), tautly maintaining a sort of ritual vibe throughout. And part of that ritual is of course arising from the sax trio format per se, something Butcher really refigures here with an audible sense of formal perfection (especially) in the first (but last, chronologically) track. Unlike The Apophonics on Air (recorded back in 2012...), it seems that nothing is wasted here, no aimless sections or strange transitions, but a constant sense of being in the moment, of being "on." (Although that earlier album does herald parts of the approach here....) Induction might thus seem a bit sedate by its end, but its ongoing operative tension is soon obvious — as it leaves an almost deafening silence in its wake. There's an (in)definite sense of flow involved prior to that, as well as a feel for quietude that invokes the post-Cage tradition, but there's also a feeling for acoustics more generally, indeed of letting vibrations & resonances set the pace for the interaction: There's thus a strong feeling for space throughout, a kind of overall geometric quality that appears to define the music (i.e. acoustically) beyond any (linear) sense of melody. There're thus hierarchies of resonance, with "musical dialog" between them, but no overriding tonality (nor stable "tones" — themselves always an abstraction): It's a sort of "received" music, i.e. of mimesis, not only of echoing wind or rustling leaves, but of animal calls as well... various naturalistic cries & resonances refigured into a sort of musical hierarchy. (I might note e.g. the "crane cries" recalling Gagaku music on track #2....) But beyond the mimetic, these three musicians also make their own sounds their own: This thus becomes very human music. So there's a sense of "anthropology music," as I've come to call it in this space (& to which Stuart Broomer apparently alludes with "cave" references in his included notes...) — a sense of quasi-prehistoric music, perhaps, but let's recall that refining metals is a relatively recent activity (& this is a very metallic album). Pace the (unusual for the previous few centuries of music, but not really for this space...) orientation, there's a directness to the expression. There's also a sort of process music implied, particularly by the final track, as the trio spreads out in hockets & breathing to involve longer tones, i.e. a sense of layering: That track, returning to the acoustic means of the first, is also called Confluence, i.e. suggesting (presumably unintentionally & in parallel...) the recent album Confluence, there often involving a more (subtly) turbulent mode. Here there's more of a laminar flow — as I'd suggested last month of Precepts. (And while the latter is acoustic, the sense of flow opening Werckmeister Musik can present some similar resonant waves, there pushed by synth temperament, rather than natural resonance... & rather noisier, more "industrial" as a result.) Induction retains a sort of "natural" feel, though. It's also highly economical, not unlike Polwechsel, in the sense that no sound is really wasted... even resonant lines of flight are allowed to follow their own course & timing. (Butcher's work with Common Objects includes similar elements of style, but that's also a larger ensemble, and thus projects a different sort of musical economy... various, often low, "process" sounds coming to merge into a more general tapestry.) And Induction also doesn't seem like an experimental album, but rather an arrival: It's not so much exploring or developing techniques as refining form. And the result is controlled austerity, resonant flight stopping at precisely the edge of our perceptual frame. So what is the politics of this music? What does its sense of achieved precision & formal "perfection" in this arena imply? It certainly suggests ritual, a kind of communing with something broadly beyond humanity. But in what sense is this a new world achieved? (Is it an old world revisited?) Is this a wild world? A calm world? We seem to be suspended beyond those notions. (Ceremony is then beyond technique? I'm reminded of traditional Christian arguments around ritual efficacy....) Frames of reference basically come to coincide with the music itself, as it comes to fill its (perceptual) frame — to the point, almost, of escaping. (Different sorts of sonic relations come to the fore, seemingly inevitably & with high gravity... but remain well-mannered, at least to this point.) What does it provoke or allow next? What can we do now? The politics does appear open, but then an open politics is presumably open to change... perhaps to very sudden (i.e. nonlinear, geometric) change.
- Todd McComb, medieval.org -

The three have recorded in various lineups in the group Polwechsel. With Induction, the three stick to acoustic music, and free improvisation. They are familiar working partners, and this is evident in their tempered music-making. The longest piece, at twenty minutes, 'Circulation' opens with a cymbal strike before breathy notes are blown and Dafeldecker pulls his bow across his resonating bass. The trio intentionally keep to a deliberate and unhurried pace, Butcher occasionally dropping in barking and sputtering notes, Beins ringing bells, and Dafeldecker bouncing his bow against strings. The velocity that eventually materializes comes about as the three (almost) become one - that is, they have determined a direction, chosen a proper fuel, and ignited their collective fuel.
The three remaining shortish tracks feature Butcher's long tones and chirping bird calls, Dafeldecker's reverberating tones, and Beins' echoing cymbals and various combinations of tiny and chunky drums. While the music was created in performance spaces, it has the definite feel of Butcher's site-specific outings.
- Mark Corroto, All About Jazz -

Diese Platte wurde zusammen mit den Lps veröffentlicht, die auf die vier Konzerte anlässlich des 65. Geburtstags von BUTCHER verweisen, gehört aber nicht zu den Aufnahmen dieses Jahrgangs. Dennoch ist diese Musik eine Musik, die selbst einen Babyboomer aus der Fassung bringt. Während die Perkussion mit tiefen, schwarzen Klängen, Gongs und Schalen (das Hauptmerkmal von BEINS) wetteifert, hält DAFELDECKERs Doppelbass die Atmosphäre mit seinen schweren Stimmungen fest, während BUTCHER mit seinem frivolen, piepsigen Tenor durch die Lüfte flattert. Das beunruhigende 'Conversion' am Anfang der B-Seite hat meine volle Zustimmung, es reibt schwer, diese Tiefe ist ebenso beängstigend wie anziehend, und die düstere Stimmung, gemischt mit dieser Schmetterlingssaxophon-Frühlingsstimmung, tränkt meisterhaft und gierig dieses klösterliche Winterende. Ich erzähle Ihnen nichts über die Cover von Ni-Vu-Ni-Connu, denn Sie kennen ihre großen und tiefen Qualitäten wie niemand sonst.
- Mastoque, STNT -

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