Burnt Friedman & Jaki Liebezeit – Secret Rhythms 3 (Nonplace/Inertia)


Whilst Burnt Friedman (Flanger) releases are always welcome there’s a certain heightened expectation when it comes to his collaboration with ex Can drummer Jaki Liebezeit. There’s something about the duos shared aesthetic, the clipped minimalisim and their cyclical nature that is the perfect fit. It’s actually becoming increasingly difficult working out where Liebezeit’s metronomic percussion begins and Friedman’s fragmented whisps of sound and clipped instrumentation begins. Liebezeit is sounding more like a robot than ever before (only his timbre occassionally gives him away) And Friedman offers a haltering imperfect humanity to the machine that belies the craft of his peculiar idiosyncratic approach. Friedman here on their third volume sounds like he has carefully cut away the fat from a killer jam, leaving only the smaller yet significant pieces of the original – only the moments where it’s really cooking, where acoustic, electric guitar, keys, clarinet and other strange off the cuff electronic sounds are woven together into this strange slightly nervous hyper real brew and re arranged according to his artistic whims.The key is that he does this like no one else around, this is his dub.

in a sense the duo are making life more difficult for themselves. Western ears crave 4/4 yet they refuse to provide this. Odd at times disconcertingly difficult time signatures abound, yet somehow they still manage to actually be quite seductive despite taking the high road. This may be because Friedman’s approach draws quite heavily on isolated elements of dub, jazz, a jiggy electronic krautrock, even at times funk. And it’s these vague associations combined with his unique skills on the mixing desk that make this music more than just palatable: it’s positively futuristic. Everything has a place in Friedman’s hands, more often than not there’s an abundance of space, yet he also twists the rules, often utilising fragments of melodic instrumentation for rhythmic ends and vice versa. There seems to be a greater reliance on acoustic guitar than ever before, though again in the main it takes on a rhythmic rather than melodic role. He also offers possibly one his most overtly dub moments since his last outing with the Nu Dub Players, Die Ehrliche Haut, where he appropriates not just the approach but the genre. Three volumes on and whilst you can’t help but wonder how much further this duo can take their extremely palatable difficult music, part of you just doesn’t care, you want your artists to be twisting and contorting, to be placing seemingly insurmountable limitations on themselves and coming out the other side with music as jaw dropping and ass shaking as this.

Bob Baker Fish


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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.