all compositions by Matthias Müller
recorded at St. Lambertus Kirche, Kirchtimke, August 18, 2016
mixed and mastered by Roy Carroll
photography Cristina Marx
cover art Annett Both
mamü music #1 12,-€
„Müller transforms the fragility and vulnerability of the solo situation into excitement.“ (Martin Schray, freejazzblog)
„…Solodemonstration von Können und Wagemut.“ (Rigobert Dittmann, Bad Alchemy)
„…pushes the parameters of the trombone and makes the beautiful and strange results available to us.“ (Rick Weaver, Tiny Mix Tapes)
„…a great presentation of what he can do in that field.“ (Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly)
In his book Into the Maelstrom David Toop claims that there is no solo. „Every sound meets the flaring acoustic space, encounters its own shadow in the higher-pitched resonation of electronic feedback, communes with ensembles of the multiple self, doubles back into its own maker even in the moment of its emergence, cries out to the listener who is performer and the hypothetical listener, the invisible ear which will at some point absorb and decipher the mystery, the arresting physicality, of these concise but strange communications.“
In spite of Toop’s statement, Matthias Müller calls Solo Trombone his first official solo album. Like many solo albums Müller’s performance is an oscillation between his band efforts (e.g. with Foils Quartet) and the evolution of his very own introspective vocabulary. Here he crosses different borders than with his groups and tries to map territories he hasn’t been before in these environments. Particularly with his use of extended playing techniques he has developed a spare yet eloquent language.
Müller transforms the fragility and vulnerability of the solo situation into excitement. „Bell“, the first piece, is an exposure of pure trombone sound in all its varieties, there is no electronic manipulation. However, Müller does alienate his lines, he delves in hissing, spitting, agonizing, squeaking and he implements the sound explorations he’s developed with his trios Trigger and their performances in show-caves and their surroundings. No traditional trombone sound is audible, only in the last four minutes of the 17-minute track Müller switches to circular breathing and throws in a funky riff he playfully dances around.
Moreover, Solo Trombone is also Müller’s way back to the roots. The album was recorded at St. Lambertus Church in the small village of Kirchtimke, located between Bremen and Hamburg, where Müller comes from and where he learned to play the trombone. „Valve“ the second piece, symbolizes this way back, he pays tribute to Johannes Bauer (with whom he played in the Posaunenglanzterzett). Recorded only three months after his death Müller uses lines Bauer could have played, as if it was a last sad reference to the great German trombonist.
In the closing track, „Slide“, Müller combines the two different approaches from the aforementioned pieces, sound in all possible varieties disperses in the church. Short shots ricochet through the room, answered by mournful groans. Listening to this piece, David Toop has a point. Müller is in a permanent dialogue with his instrument, he absorbs the atmosphere and vice versa, he listens and responds.
Is this a solo album? Who cares if the music is that good.
In der Posaunenriege, in der nach Johannes Bauers Tod Paul Hubweber, Hilary Jeffery und Michael Thieke oder die Schweizer Robert Morgenthaler und Andreas Tschopp die Außenpositionen besetzt halten, ist der Niedersachse in Berlin ein Unikum für sich. Seine markanten Spuren bei Superimpose, The Astronomical Unit, Foils, Rupp/Müller/Fischerlehner, Trigger, Absolutely Sweet Marie, im Splitter Orchester oder im „White Desert Orchestra“ von Eve Risser, sie kulminieren hier in einer Solodemonstration von Können und Wagemut. Der rechte Ort dafür ist ein ihm besonders vertrauter, nämlich die Dorfkirche im heimatlichen Kirchtimke (bei Zeven), seine Posaunenkinderstube zwischen Odelfeldern und Schierk-Wald. Was er dem Instrument abnötigt, verrät einiges von der Spannung aus Fortgang und Rückgriff. Weiter weg vom lutheranischen Posaunenchor und doch so nahe an Stoppelfeld und Windbruch kann man kaum gehen. Horn und Glocke, bespielt mit Valve und mit Slide, tun sich, zirkularbeatmet oder überblasen, als fauchende Unendlichkeit auf. Müller bläst, zischt, presst, schlürft und dröhnt als wortwörtlichster Steampunk und Luftikus, mit impulsiven Stößen und verstopften Ventilen, mit Flatterwellen, Schlabber- und Schnaublauten. Er schleift und biegt Luftsäulen im Windkanal, bändigt einen röhrenden Halteton und bohrt Luftlöcher bei einem kuriosen Hummelflug. Mit Valve erst klangvoller, ‚posaunistischer‘, dann aber auch gedämpft ohne Dämpfer, mit gerolltem Grrrrowling und sprudeligem Drive. Im dritten, dem ‚Slide‘-Part, macht er mit geploppten und geschmierten Kürzeln Punkt-Strichmuster, rrroooh und mit Pfiff. Er mundmalt einen Motor, erst unglaublich durchgezogen, dann stottrig wummernd. Gefolgt von gespaltenem, angeraut surrendem Helldunkel, das im Kirchenraum aufquillt, sich spuckig wieder vermindert und doch als stabiler Halteton einen Längsstrich einzeichnet, einen Richtungspfeil hin zu offenen Horizonten. [BA 94 rbd]
(Rigobert Dittmann, Bad Alchemy 94, June 2017)
Give a trombone to a vampire to stave off its bite. I don’t normally do this: picture a vampire playing the bone, but what more surefire way than embouchure to keep the mouth occupied. Once the monsters put down their brass then we’ve got a reason to run. To run or be gored. I was starting to side against seatbelt laws—we’re all grown-ups after all—but now I’ve got to reconsider. Strap, secure the body; plug the mouth with mouthpiece.
Well, it used to be funny, the trombone, like a plunger. “Flight of the Bumblebee” and a hearty laugh. Now here in this century there’s something less amusing about the thing; there’s something dangerous and luddite about it. The brass section just doesn’t seem to be keeping step with the rest of us. Captain Zuck wants our faces, Musk our brains, but the trombonist, whatever do they want with us? Greed, gain, play; the rules of negotiation don’t fit here.
There’s freedom in the trombone—too much freedom, some of you say. It’s that freedom that captures the imagination of certain individuals. Matthias Müller—the teeth hidden from plain view—pushes the parameters of the trombone and makes the beautiful and strange results available to us.
(Rick Weaver, Tiny Mix Tapes, June 14, 2017)
The trombone isn’t the most likely of instruments when it comes to solo improvising; no doubt the resemblance to flatulent sounds is part of that. And yet ever since hearing ‚A Third Trombone’by Phill Niblock (first as background music to Brian Eno interview, then the actual piece of LP in the mid 80s), I have fondness of the instrument. The music from Matthias Müller is not alike that of Niblock, as this is all improvised and not as composed as Niblock’s. To record the three pieces on ‚Solo Trombone‘ Müller went back to the village where he grew up and learned the trombone in a ‚local trombone choir‘ and in the St. Lambertus Kirche he did the actual recording. All in a single day and I assume without any overdubs but perhaps with the help of a couple of microphones to capture the spatial character of the church. In these three pieces Müller explores the sound of the trombone, and nothing else. There are no objects playing on the body, no amplification, just the instrument itself, and it’s all to do with the mouth being used to play it. Short, long, sustaining or cut short and in ‚Bell‘ the emphasis on the sustaining and leads to a beautiful result. Though in the other pieces there are bits of hectic it is something that Müller doesn’t use a lot. Not unlike Kyle Motl’s CD last week, who had a solo CD of solo improvisations on the contrabass, Müller’s improvising is some conservative, but then also in much longer pieces. I am not sure (actually never am) what the reason is for doing a solo improvised CD, but if the idea is to send out a calling card for other people to come and play along, I am sure he doesn’t need that, as Müller already has an excellent reputation in that field, playing with Ignaz Schick, Torsten Papenheim, Attacca, The Astronomical Unit, Olaf Rupp and Foils Quartet. But perhaps a solo CD he felt was missing in his discography and as such he delivered a great presentation of what he can do in that field.
(Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly #1085, June 6, 2017)