The Astronomical Unit
Matthias Müller – trombone
Clayton Thomas – bass
Christian Marien – drums
The Astronomical Unit was formed in 2007, when Clayton Thomas moved from Australia to Berlin. At that point Matthias Müller and Christian Marien had already worked as a duo for several years. The duos density and Thomas‘ distinctive way of playing was the starting point from which the trio quickly developed an independant contemporary approach to improvised music: „The Astronomical Unit“ perform music, that almost sounds composed. They channelize the free musical flow into formal and structural clearness. One can tell that they are conscious of the tradition of American freejazz and European improvisation, but „The Astronomical Unit“ keep reinventing themselves and question musical agreements. Their debut CD „Relativity“ was released on „Jazzwerkstatt“ in 2010. The second CD “Super Earth” was released on “Gligg Records” in 2013.
Matthias Müller has been living in Berlin since 2004, playing regularly with internationally recognised improvisers such as John Edwards, Mark Sanders, Johannes Bauer, Tobias Delius, Olaf Rupp, Burkhard Beins, Frank Paul Schubert, Michael Vorfeld, Axel Dörner, and many more. He can be heard on more than twenty releases, and his CD „Bhavan“ (2004) was produced by Chicago-based musician and journalist John Corbett. Mller is a member of the 24-piece improvising ensemble “Splitter Orchester“, and was also a member of the “German-French Jazzensemble“, under the direction of Albert Mangelsdorff. In addition, he is also active in the field of contemporary music.
Clayton Thomas is a bassist who has dedicated himself wholly to the pursuit of improvisation, studying with master bassists Wilber Morris and Henry Grimes in New York and Peter Kowald in Germany. He has performed around the U.S., Europe, Australia and New Zealand with three generations of improvisers – including Alexander von Schlippenbach, Axel Dörner, Johannes Bauer, Sonny Simmons, Marilyn Crispell, Jon Rose, Jim Denley, Newton Armstrong, Tim O’Dwyer, Sabir Mateen, Daniel Carter, Mike Pride, Mary Halvorson, Tony Buck and Makigami Koichi amongst many others. His use of extended techniques and extreme physicality give his music unexpected dimension. He is also an active grass roots organiser, founding the „now now festival“ of improvised music and the regular concert series „if you like improvised music, we like you“ as well as the 30-piece electro-acoustic ensemble „The splinter orchestra“. Clayton lived in Berlin from 2007 to 2014.
Christian Marien moved to Berlin in 2000, where he quickly established a reputation in the Jazz scene as a co-founder of groups including „Olaf Ton“ and „Stereo Lisa“. More and more he turned towards free improvised music, and has since collaborated with a multitude of leading improvisers, including Frank Gratkowski, Johannes Bauer, and Gebhard Ullmann, Jürgen Kupke. His interest in other forms of artistic expression has lead to collaborations with visual artists (Thomas Bratzke, Philip Wiegard), actors (Judith Strößenreuter) and dancers (Hans-Werner Klohe, Kadir “Amigo” Memis, Julyen Hamilton), and the project „Ritsche, Zast & Marien“ (which combines improvisation in music and painting) curates regular exhibitions and performances.