CD Review: Andreas Schaerer and Lucas Niggli - Arcanum

Andreas Schaerer and Lucas Niggli - Arcanum
 (Intakt Records 232. CD Review by Eric Ford)

The idea of a duet between voice (augmented and manipulated by electronics) and percussion/drums is appealing and of course stretches back to the dawn of human existence. The eight pieces from the Swiss duo on this CD are improvised, although vocalist Andreas Schaerer and drummer/percussionist Lucas Niggli clearly decided on a "vibe" for the start of each piece before proceeding. The duo excel in conjuring both violence and tranquility. The meditative tracks - replete with gongs to aid the transition into trance - were my favourites. Very Zen. Some of the more frantic pieces had me laughing aloud, although I know lots of other people who would have been reaching for the "stop" button at these moments. For Schaerer is wont to use his voice for the production of unexpected sounds.

This album goes beyond the bounds of what would conventionally be referred to as "music" and any sound Andreas can produce via his mouth is fair game. Some of it actually reminded me of Clark Terry's "mumblings" from the 1960's. Andreas can clearly sing and Lucas can clearly play; their collaboration, equally clearly, is about sound, performance and energy more than about "music" per se.

Three of the eight tracks climax with the same thrashy fusion drumming from Niggli, which is (ironically) one of the hazards of improvised music. Without a premeditated structure to ensure different outcomes in different pieces, it's easy to slide into a comfort zone and revert to whatever springs to mind most readily.

The duo will be performing on the final night of the EFG London Jazz Festival, 23rd November at Club Inegales 

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