(...) both players number themselvesas part of the New Berlin Reductionism scene, and both are informed by the same spirit of adventure as all the CDs described here.Adventure- once , that used to be what improv was all about. I have heard so much contemporary improvisation where the players act as though allthe important music has already been made, and that all they need to do is make a minor improvement on it , or (even worse) make a musicial comment on it;how often do you hear a saxophone player happy to bask in the gigantic shadow cast by Evan Parker ? Or a guitarist who knows that his every move is being mentally compared to the complete works of Derek Bailey?
I'm not here to tell you that Beins and Renkel have rediscovered the key to the Garden of Eden and have entered a prelapsarian state of purity, but on this superb double set they do behave and perform with a wondrous innocence, playing as though they're discovering a language for the first time.
Exquisite music pours forth in unstoppable torrents, produced from a gentle caressing of instruments, musicians loving the small sounds, and expressing a real amazement at the simplest things - a guitar string can resonate ! A bowed cymbal vibrates ! Small rattling creaky and scraping sounds build together slowly, progressivly building up simple melodies and rhythms, rhythms like clockwork toys dancing across a parquet floor in a clunky movement.
This music adds new meaning and new vitality to the "genre" of guitar and percussion improv - in fact it ignores the genre altogether and creates something better. Other improv players dream, in their politically correct and polite way, of leaving enough space for their fellow collaborators to perform... Activity Center go one stage further, and create that space - defining huge areas of interactive possibility between the notes.
This method - and this music - guarantees your listening delight - you sit and wait in fascination.
What will come next?
- Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector -

Mowen & Moos is a double disc of lengthy improvisations by the guitar/percussion duo of Burkhard Beins and Michael Renkel, two Berlin-based musicians who are also members of the larger ensemble Phosphor. Their approach is calm and unhurried, essentially a conversation in moderate tones. One thing that differentiates this duo from other practitioners of this genre of free improv is that the sounds derived from their respective instruments actually, more often than not, are recognizable as such. Renkel's guitar, unlike the many who followed Keith Rowe's lead toward the tabletop model equipped with all manner of accoutrements, tends to be clearly heard as such, with the odd excursion into rubbings and taps. He's not averse to using repeated figures that, with a broad enough definition, could even be heard as melodies. Beins, when not bowing cymbals and the like, generates percussive patterns and even falls into quasi-regular rhythms from time to time. This may seem unremarkable, but here that stance is given a great freshness due, presumably, to the prior lessons learned by these gentlemen in groups where such overt playing was frowned upon, if not strictly forbidden. This results in an interchange that manages to span over 100 minutes without ever growing dull or repetitious; if it doesn't attain the creative heights achieved by masters of the genre such as AMM, it does more than sustain interest and even fascination, like an engaging chat between old friends. For those who find much free improv too "cold" or abstract, this admittedly difficult-to-find set could be just the tonic. Renkel constructed a remix of this session (Activity Center, 2:13 Music 014) that's also excellent while sounding almost nothing like it.
- Brian Olewnick, All Music Guide -

Smembrato e per nulla accomodante, l'improvvisazione di 'Mowen & Moos' poco cede all'ascolto distensivo e pi¨ si associa ad un approccio cerebrale. Un'unica lunga traccia evanescente, sfuggente: si corre il rischio di perdere il senso dell'orientamento anche nei momenti meno indirizzati verso la forma libera e perci˛ maggiormente 'ragionati'. Nastri che si riavvolgono e chitarre scordate che, a confronto con i remix (pur minimali) proposti da Michael Renkel (metÓ degli Activity Center assieme a Burkhard Beins), appaiono quasi costretti nel loro precipuo contenuto. Quest'ultimo apre il disco ad intermittenze elettroniche di varia natura facendoci imbattere in un enorme elaboratore anni '60 in piena attivitÓ di calcolo che invia onde sonore ad un ritmo bislacco e mentalmente spossante. Un continuo stimolo alla (re)interpretazione nel tentativo di (ri)comporre e (ri)assemblare gli elementi. Meno incisivo quando si limita alla semplice aggiunta di suoni e ritmi, l'album di remix spesso fornisce nuovi angoli di visione di Activity Center ed al loro lento e sprezzante incedere, dove perfino il rifluire delle onde 'entra' nella composizione e ne costituisce parte integrante.
- Michele Casella, Neural -

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