Listed as one of THE WIRE´s Top 50 Records 2005

This trio, formed by Mark Wastell on double bass, Rhodri Davies on harp and Burkhard Beins on percussion, gets rid of any conceptual rigidity through a concentrated approach to the fine craft of filling voids with additional void. Though not technically over-adorned, the music played by The Sealed Knot answers only a few questions; its greyish atmospheres do not necessarily grant a free pass to any casual bystander. The peculiar mixture between these tense, low-whisper nods and the sense of primal telepathy that these men transmit is the very strength of the CD; during almost 40 minutes, the thin link between "subliminal" and "sublime" makes itself visible in several unbelievable sections, where the instruments morph beautifully: percussion breathes hard, the harp is feedback-wrapped, the bass puts a scarf around its own power to stare seriously amidst the throbbing sound waves. The skeleton born from all these processes is hard-boned and with a mind of his own, already.
- massimo ricci, touching extremes -

In search of lowercase
"Lowercase", "reductionist", "onkyo", "micro-improv", "minimal improv".. by the time we manage to reach a consensus on what to call the recent trend in improvised music towards a greater use of silence, generally lower dynamics and avoidance (deliberate or otherwise) of "traditional" / "conversational" models, it'll probably be too late. Indeed, London-based cellist / bassist / electronician / percussionist Mark Wastell (who by the way has always preferred the term "reductionist" to "lowercase", which would seem to have set him on a collision course with Bhob Rainey who expressed serious reservations about the R word in Signal To Noise magazine a while back) argues nowadays that the genre / movement, call it what you will, is over and done with. As adjectives go, though, "reductionist" is certainly effective to describe the four tracks that make up Unwanted Object, Wastell's third outing on disc with the Sealed Knot trio with harpist Rhodri Davies and percussionist Burkhard Beins. It's as if each musician has decided in advance to concentrate on a small predete rmined number of sonorities: Wastell, on double bass (his latest instrumental discovery, already featured on the solo "For John Entwistle" on Absinth), prefers simple low register pizzicati and detached staccato bowed work - no danger then of him ending up sounding like Werner Dafeldecker, as sustained bowed tones appear relatively briefly later in the album; Beins restricts himself to bowed and scraped drum heads and cymbals, with a special fondness for crotales (but as Wastell is well known for using Nepalese bowls I sometimes wonder if it's not him, even though he's credited as playing only the bass), and Davies favours bell-like multiphonics from his prepared harp. The press release sums it up quite nicely when it jokingly describes the music as "Feldman encounters a gamelan ensemble at a house party hosted by The Necks", though that makes things sound more lightweight than they actually are. Feldman's influence seems undeniable - the use of regular and not so regular repeating cells of material marks a distinct departure from earlier "oops you missed it" lowercase practice - and Wastell and Davies' apparent fondness for duple and quadruple rhythmic structures is just as surprising. There's no danger of Beins ever letting the music swing, but at times the pulse element is sufficiently upfront to have you tap your foot along, albeit briefly. This in conjunction with the fact that any low bass notes repeated often enough are inevitably perceived by the ear as the root of a chord makes the music sound remarkably normal (you could even argue that whole stretches of the final track could be heard as a kind of D eleventh chord with added high G# on the crotales). The album title refers to the fact that the recording was originally intended for release as part of the American label Locust Music's Object series, but was turned down by the label for unspecified reasons. I'd be curious to find out what those were, since the Sealed Knot work is musically as distinctive if not more so than several of the outings released in the Object series so far. Perhaps they thought it didn't push the envelope far enough (but offhand I can think of two other Objects of which the same could be said). However, despite the fact that its vocabulary is reasonably user-friendly, the overall impression Unwanted Object gives is one of funereal dirge. "Requiem for Reductionism", perhaps.
- Dan Warburton, Paristransatlantic -

Mit Unwanted Object (Confront Collectors Series, CCS1), dem aktuellen Lebenszeichen von THE SEALED KNOT, Beins "String"-Trio mit dem Harfner Rhodri Davies und Mark Wastell, der diesmal vom Cello zum Kontrabass gewechselt hat, verbindet sich die Geschichte einer Ablehnung. Eigentlich verabredet als Beitrag für seine "Object"-Reihe, machte das US-Label Locust einen unerwarteten Rückzieher mit dem Argument, dass die aktuelle musikalische Entwicklung des Trios nicht ganz den Erwartungen entspräche. Nun zeigen Beins, Wastell & Davies im Vergleich mit dem Debut (Confront) und Surface / Plane (Meniscus Rec.) hier tatsächlich eine Tendenz, die Plinkplonk-Welt nicht nur improvisatorisch abzuflachen und auszudünnen. Wenn Improvisation eine Aktivität in der Zeit ist, dann wird die Zeit bei Unwanted Object zum Raum, ein ambienter Soundscape aus pfeifend und dröhnend sich hinbreitenden horizontalen Linien, flachen Hügeln, stehenden Wellen, monotoner Präsenz, schimmernd und quellend. Einzelne Wassertropfen sind alles, was diesen Klangraum vertikal durchkreuzt, helle Plinks, wenn sie auf Metall aufschlagen, dunkle Plonks, als ob sie auf Holz träfen, sirrend, wenn sie spritzend zerstäuben. Die Illusion ist zu prägnant, um die narrative, lautmalende Absicht zu bestreiten. Dass sich das Getröpfel nicht recht zum Regen verdichtet, auf den man bei offenem Fenster hinaus träumt, gibt dem Eindruck einen weiteren Dreh ins Subtile, Imaginäre. Fast meint man zu halluzinieren, als ob nur die eigene Schädeldecke undicht wäre. Dennoch fühlt man sich eher beruhigt als irritiert und gequält durch die so müde und melancholisch, so mild und tröstlich fallenden Tontropfen. Im vierten Part hört man deutlich, wie Beins mit seinen Metallscheiben schabt und spechtartig klopft. Dann wieder minutenlang ein quasi elektronischer Pfeifton, einzelne Metallplinks, Kontrabassplonks, sirrende Cymbals, Arcodrones. Die Faszination wird dadurch, dass die Illusion hörbar handgewirkt ist, nicht geringer, nur direkter, mit dem ganzen Zauber des Spielerischen.
- Rigobert Dittmann, Bad Alchemy -

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