Foils

Layout 1

Frank Paul Schubert / Matthias Müller
Foils

1  hunters 3:32
2  a million mirrors 4:31
3  crackling carcass 5:32
4  lungs 5:32
5 the epiphany diagram 7:31
6 black water (slow repeat) 6:53
7 written on rubber 5:18
8 mourn 4:14
9 in braille 4:40

Recorded February 7th, 2011 by Lothar Ohlmeier at Ausland/Berlin, mixed March 14th, 2011 by Niklas Schmincke at P4 Studios/Berlin

FMR CD 311-0511      10,-€





liner notes by Clayton Thomas:

FOIL “To set off by comparison / to obscure or confuse”

Somehow, even though both Matthias and Frank play with a lot of the same musicians in and around Berlin (including me) I have never imagined they would play together. That wasn’t a judgement about compatibility, or class, but essentially about desire – I always figured they were on separate paths, and wanted different things from their music.

So when this recording landed in my hand, with the invitation to listen and write about it, I was at first just surprised that it existed – and that furthermore, it was going to be released. There are a million unlikely recordings floating around on CDR’s and hard drives for the world never to hear about – fortunately this is not one of them.

Although coming from different generations, and backgrounds, both Matthias and Frank share something very rare, and something very specific. They are both deeply sceptical musicians who, nonetheless, are looking for transcendence in their music.

When sonic investigation, intellectual diligence and a disregard for flabby emotionalism are your starting points, it can be really hard to get yourself out of yourself – to transcend your own head. Some musicians like Robin Hayward and Axel Doerner have defined themselves by the abdication of this need, but for a growing generation of musicians who have moved through or side-stepped reductionism, the potentials at the core of improvised music remains – as Paul Lovens would say – “stepping in the river and letting it take you”.

So what do you do when you want to get your feet wet but you don’t want to drown?

This set of duets looks to answer the question.

On the surface, we might hear the echo Paul Rutherford & Evan Parker, but listening closely, the tempos are all wrong, the durations extended to the point of breaking, the counterpoint incongruous with that generations thinking. Another language is being spoken here, one that hears with four ears all that Berlin improvisers have achieved in the past 15 years – integrated with musicality and empathy, and totally free of mimicry.

If I was surprised this recording existed, then I’m stunned by what they recorded – Matthias and Frank explore the breadth of their experience with trust and openness, never shying from layering one school of thought against another – never being thrown off course by a hard line, a dense texture, an extended silence. This exploratory and generous record achieves a rare balance – they have crafted a unique vessel to survive the waters.

Reviews:

Frank Paul Schubert on soprano sax and Matthias Muller on trombone. Although both of these musicians are from the Berlin scene, this is their first recording together. I recognize Mr. Schubert’s name from a few discs out on the Konnex label and Mr. Muller I know from a couple of discs out on the JazzWerkStatt label. Soprano sax and trombone, an interesting combination of sounds. Both of these men are into some extended techniques so we quite a bit of explorations with tones and textures. Spiraling soprano and quick swirling trombone lines dancing tightly around one another. It sounds like a heated and intense conversation between two members of the same tribe. Although both of these instruments deals with much different ranges, these two musicians work well together at combining their sounds. In a blindfold test, you might guess Evan Parker and George Lewis, but for me Evan does have a more distinctive sound. Still, I am most impressed by this duo, their concentration and interplay is consistently engaging. I dig when they slow down and focus on smaller, less abrupt sounds giving us a chance to hear each fragment as it appears. When things speed up, the excitement increases as the sounds soar together.
(Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery)

Using extended techniques and a remarkable interactive approach, trombonist Matthias Mueller and soprano saxophonist Frank Paul Schubert surprise in 9 distinctive duo recordings.
(squidco.com)

This duo, embodied by relatively young improvisers – Schubert on soprano sax, Müller on trombone – belongs to a sphere of impromptu performers of unsullied virtuosity, also sensible to the subtle hues that differentiate raucous dilettantism from accomplished researching. Foils – recorded in Berlin, February 2011 – does not offer excessive target for the arrows of unforgiving criticism; all over its nine tracks – even the calmer ones – heartfelt passion fuels the musicians‘ intention of avoiding the „let’s-contemplate-what-we-did“ attitude that drags a fair amount of recordings down the waters of tedium.
Each piece might be taken as an example of exuberant technical maturity, some of them outstanding in terms of sharp legerdemain and sheer involvement. „The Epiphany Diagram“ sees the couple running fast across articulate counterpoint-cum-screaming outbreaks, still leaving space for the mind to understand the majority of the occurring events. Then we’re suddenly pushed into the pop-fizz-and-hiss area, but with musicality and sense of spacing virtually unknown to the novices who pretend to be experts in the disproportionate egalitarianism of today’s art.
What’s instantly noticeable is the absence of any trace of plagiarism. Every pitch, or mere emission, sounds connected to a primary instinct, halfway through surviving in a dangerous place and the necessity of telling uneasy truths in their entirety before someone comes and shuts the dissenter’s mouth. „Written On Rubber“ compares two kinds of similar needs, both players apparently driven by the burning desire of arriving – quickly – to a thorough assessment of who they are. To this aim, no password or trick is requested; just the internal combustion that should propel an honest improviser. Believe it or not, the number of those who belong to the category is not that high.
(Massimo Ricci in The Squid’s Ear, January 14, 2012)

Another one with trombonist Matthias Müller (I first heard him with creative jazz outfit Olaf Ton), this time duetting with Frank Paul Schubert on soprano sax. I like this one. A series of rather short duos featuring well-defined ideas, and where the instrumentalists develop a fine level of synergy resting on their mastery of extended techniques. “A Million Mirrors” and “Written on Rubber” stand out as splendid exercices in listening.
(Francois Couture in Monsieur Delire, February 29, 2012)

Was denn? Nur Sopransaxophon und Posaune. Jawohl. Und die beiden füllen den Raum, als würde eine linksradikale Blaskapelle agieren. Ein Klangblühen aus der Introspektive der Intimität. Dieses Blühen ist vollmundig und bunt. Mit dem Atem und Händen zweier Berliner Musiker geformt, die am internationalen Radar Improvisierter Musik noch nicht allzu präsent sind. Das wird aber nicht mehr allzu lange auf sich warten lassen. Zu nachklingend sind beider musikalische wie instrumentelle Eigenheiten und Qualitäten. Welche sie ohne jegliche Eitelkeiten und geschwollener Kämme, schonungslos ausbreiten. Alleine der Klangsucht und dem Erfinden von Musik mit Gültigkeit stehen diese Vorzüge im Wort. Natürlich sind verschiedene musikalische Reservate wie Klangeindrücke von Serieller Musik, Dodekaphonie oder z.B. die britische non-idiomatische Improvisationsästhetik ein anregender Faktor, doch die Berliner Luft durchweht die Klangfolien der Beiden mit Eigensinn. Und von diesem weichen sie nicht ab. Die Instrumente erfahren unorthodoxeste Expansionen. Beispielsweise durch verblüffende Multiphonictechniken, mittels derer Schubert sein Sopran wie eine Mezzosopranistin jubilieren lässt oder Müller quengelige Insektenschwärme losschickt. Eingefangen werden all die Luftsprünge mit einem eloquenten, aus dem Moment heraus kalibrierten Formbewusstsein, das mit den spontanen Klangentladungen Hand in Hand geht. Hieraus entsteht eine impulsive Poesie mit sowohl knochiger Konsistenz, als auch energetischen Kulminationen. Zwei jüngere Repräsentanten der Improvisationsphilosopie mit kontrastreichen, verdichteten Spontanepisoden, deren Waghalsigkeiten durch die offensichtliche menschliche Bindung ein mehr an Überzeugungskraft gewinnen. Feinkost.
(Hannes Schweiger, Freistil, #50, 2013)

One of the more interesting European trombonists to appear recently has been Berlin-based Matthias Müller, who has been releasing a series of ever more sophisticated CDs since the turn of the century. Firmly affiliated with the so-called avant-garde, but not so much part of it that he ignores the basic brass capacities of his instrument, two recent sessions firmly demonstrate his capabilities. Far more fulfilling is Tam, with the working trio of Müller, Berlin-based guitarist Olaf Rupp and Austrian drummer Rudi Fischerlehmer. Not that there’s anything fundamentally flawed with Foils, 10 duets with soprano saxophonist Frank Paul Schubert, another Berliner. It’s just that that CD is concerned with technical experimentation above all other aspects.
Throughout the two foils appear to be struggling to inject some sort of lyrical content into what is an examination of various timbres and textures under laboratory-like conditions. Even when the interface is slow-paced and balladic as on “Crackling Carcass”, Schubert’s strategy is still to amass a collection of strident extrusions that appear to be constantly juddering and jerking. It’s Müller who deepens the duet as his pedal-point growls define the bottom while coating the piece with calm. With the raison d’etre experimentation, the few instances when Schubert introduces lyrical content are outpaced by the number of tongue slaps, irregular vibrations and altissimo reed shakes he isolates. Both musicians are sensitive to tempo, since despite how quickly or fragmented the narratives are, the theme is never lost. Plus many instances of double counterpoint are heard without integration. “Written on Rubber” is a lively instance of this as the trombonist’s flat-line capillary blows are subtly decorated with trills and twists from the saxophonist until they agree on a rugged, stentorian nearly percussive tone-melding. Unintentionally or not, one highlight of the set occurs on “Mourn”, which despite its title is more modulated than many of the other tracks. While slide-whistle-resembling and harmonica-like blows are audible, a gentling connection creates notable harmony between the two. […]
All in all, these CDs are two more high quality examples of Müller’s – and other musicians – near-classic playing. If both sessions are laudable without quite reaching the first rank, there’s no doubt that he – and the others – will have plenty of opportunities to best these discs in the future.
(Ken Waxman, Jazzword, January 18, 2014)