Axel Dörner & Mark Sanders – Stonecipher (Fataka 5) | Ikue Mori & Steve Noble – Prediction and Warning (Fataka 6)

Stonecipher is cool; Prediction and Warning is hot. And if that feels like Old School terminology, words resurrected from the critical lexicon of yesteryear, to describe these two freshly released improvised duos recorded in 2011, then the four musicians involved, to varying degrees, have all travelled stylistic destinations unknown twixt jazz and free improvisation.

30.08 / 2013

The Dörner and Sanders collaboration is a ritualistic slow burn. Axel Dörner’s name has become an indication of a way of processing and thinking about sound rather than the ID tag of a mere trumpeter. The first sound you encounter is closed-miked, toneless fluttertonguing, your eardrums inside a wind tunnel. But the surprise, despite the immediacy of the sound sources, is an unerring sense that this ritual is actually being pursued in a fantasy middle-distance placed marginally beyond our capacity to hear it whole.

Sanders’ gong strokes, swelling and breaking, define a key structural substrata but, paradoxically, are mulched electronically deep inside Dörner’s trumpet, more felt than explicitly heard. And that is the sonic terrain above which Stonecipher reveals itself, some place between mist and an urgent continuous present, the occasional stark trumpet phrase puncturing the smog.

Prediction and Warning’s naked, brutally clear-cut duologues exist in a different world to Dörner and Sanders’ soundscapes. In “Black Death (Steve’s March)”, Noble’s pulsating snare returns the art of drumming to source: to Baby Dodds in New Orleans, to pipe and tabor. Ikue Mori blasts light-streams of electronica over the top, pushing inside the cracks of Noble’s grooves until they fracture; now the internal discussion being how to knit this music back together. “Land of Famine”, the one extended track, vaguely approaches the methodology of Stonecipher. But where ‘cipher’ was the key word there, two musicians coolly sacrificing their identities, here Noble and Mori engage in heated debate. And there’s no mistaking who’s who.

Philip Clark