Die Abwesenheit des igels

Unit Records, Switzerland

Acoustic bassist Christian Hartmann and pianist Urban Mader serve up a bit of a smorgasbord here. Opening with the title piece, a series of abstractions (Mader using a piano prepared John Cage-style in the first suite of short subjects), this duo begin in Roscoe Mitchell territory (circa SOUND), work through ostinatos and how one can cleverly abuse them, toss into the mix with some humor a swing bass gambit, move back out into free territory, and even craft a hummable snip of twelve-tone melody. Very nicely recorded with just the right kind of echo. The second suite, "Beim Einbrechen der Nacht," is more painterly; the abstractions continue but Mader and Hartmann both employ differing strategies, dabbing sounds on the silence like a canvas. You might start thinking "Morton Feldman, call your office" about here, but not necessarily; there is a lushness that the echo is partially responsible for supplying. But then if these gentlemen didn't know how to react to one another's collaging so well, you'd just find yourself wondering where they recorded it. A challenging listen, but cogent and worth the time required to get into it.

by Ken Egbert

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