Improvisation is an area of music that is can seem to be rather inscrutable and hard to enter into for the neophyte. Questions of worthiness, technique and that old chestnut â€œBut is it any good?â€ rise up from the spectral gloom of the uninitiated mind. Most music obsessives have had some passing exposure to improvisation, be it with AMM, The Necks or Sunburned Hand of the Man, but do you know your Benninks from your Baileys? Admittedly, I don’ think I could respond in the affirmative to that question, other than to say I know that one mangles drumkits, whilst the other hunched over a semi-acoustic guitar. Which brings me back to that old chestnut from aboveâ€¦
TomaÅ¾ Grom is a Slovenian double bassist, and is also artistic director of the Ljubljana-based not-for-profit Zavod Sploh cultural organisation. Japanese percussionist Seijiro Murayama is now based in France and has worked with the likes of Fred Frith & KK Null. Together on Nepretrganost, they have produced a spacious, at times barely perceptible example of the dynamic interplay between two musicians in command of their own syntax.
An entirely acoustic recording, shying away from layers of electronic-derived improvisation, you can almost sense the dynamic interplay and straining senses, as the musicians explore timbre and texture across the relative brevity of this release. Numbered 1 – 5 in Slovenian, Ena’ (1) opening gambit of small, deliberate gestures is slowly supplanted by Murayama’ galloping snare pattern. On Tri (3), almost imperceptibly a high-pitched drone emanates from Grom’ bowed manipulation of a brass prayer-bowl like instrument. His double bass slowly slides into the mix, along with studiously bowed cymbals and what sounds like a melodica. Pet (5), is almost a summation of all the techniques and practices that have conspired in the previous pieces, with Murayama yelping and hiccupping like a man with tourette’ caught in the downward vortex of an emptying sink.
The beauty of Nepretrganost is that it showcases two musicians who are sympathetic to the techniques and methods of each other; they allow space to flourish and retreat as necessary. If you enjoy music of an exploratory and transient nature, there is much to recommend on this release. But you’ll have to make up your own mind about that old chestnut posited above, dear reader.