© 2017

Barbara Romen / Kai Fagaschinski / Gunter Schneider
Here Comes The Sun
MIKROTON CD 23 | 2012

Edition of 300 (out of print).

Digital edition (FLAC / MP3)

BUY

PHYSICAL | CD

Sold out at source Metamkine Squidco

DIGITAL

Mikroton Shop €7 iTunes Boomkat Subradar

1. Who's There?
2. Feelings Without End
3. Dazed And Diffused
4. The Last Words
5. At The End Of The Tunnel There Is Always A Lie
6. Plainchat And Goodbye

Barbara Romen hammered dulcimer
Kai Fagaschinski clarinet
Gunter Schneider guitars

Kreuzberg meets Starkenbuehel – the Tyrolean musicians couple Barbara Romen and Gunter Schneider have been working together for many years in different areas of contemporary music. In either, the composed and the improvised fields, they have proved to be sensitive partners with and of unheard sounds. The Berlin based clarinetist and multiphoner Kai Fagaschinski is fairly known as subtle researcher into sound with long breath.

The trio met for the first time in Berlin, at Raumschiff Zitrone in 2006. After a second, magic encounter at echoraum in Vienna it was clear, that there was a common future. Over the years they have played a dozen of concerts mainly in Austria and Berlin, among other at Music Unlimited (Wels) and Kaleidophon (Ulrichsberg). In 2008 they did a micro-tour with special guest Philip Jeck. In the same year – back in their initial trio formation – they came together at the Amann Studios in Vienna for the recordings of their debut album, which hopefully spines now in your CD player.

The three musicians sound the mergening options of their actually really different instruments. In constant togetherness, they weave homogenous harmonic fields and structures. Their secret lore of the commonly conceiled abysses of their instruments allows them to find beauty in the fragile. The soft sounds count. The necessary traps they set themselves with a fine sense of the absurd. A filigrane, psychedelic chamber music. Here comes the sun.

Thoughts
From all things that fascinate me about this trio, the first is the unspoken selfunderstoodness about what we do and how we do it.
It is a music without melody, yet full of motion, without chord progressions, yet full of harmonies without rhythm, yet full of drive and groove, without hierarchic structures and functions, yet complex, loose and concentrated.
The first impression of our music might – or should I say will – be slow, down tempo. But this just opens, like the view through a microscope, to a sonic world rich of changes, motions, and synaptic relations.
Gunter Schneider

Reviews

The Sound Projector, Paul Khimasia Morgan:
We all love The Beatles don’t we? (This is a rhetorical question.) And what better ironic, tongue-in-cheek way to commemorate those lovable Liverpudlian longhairs than to record an album of difficult avant-garde music and then name it after one of their most successful tunes. Ho ho, you guys! As a wholly irrelevant aside, I seem to recall that the Beatles’ tune “Here Comes The Sun” was the theme for the BBC’s flagship holiday programme presented by Cliff Michelmore back in the 1970s. And that George Harrison; he’s the man. He was always my favourite.
Anyway. Great to hear hammered dulcimer played by an accomplished technician in an improvised setting that doesn’t simply rely on the irresistible potential of simply scraping all those strings in “new and interesting” ways. Barbara Romen’s name is unfamiliar to me, but on the strength of her involvement in this release I’m going to search out more of her music.
This is a strong collection of six recordings, all very self-contained and unique in their own ways, but still standing together as a unified whole. The first track, “Who’s There?” offers a coherent appraisal of each of the player’s interests over a twelve and a half minute duration that seems to fly by. If I’d heard this piece at a concert rather than on a cd I think I’d feel slightly short-changed perhaps. The languorous way the players pluck at, agitate, trill and breathe on their instruments seems to collapse time, (at least during the first ten minutes – things get slightly more demanding toward the end), with overlapping long tones driving things gently along.
Next out of the six is another longish piece at fourteen minutes; “Feelings Without End”. Here, the dulcimer sounds more like a piano at the very beginning. During one listen, I admit I was beginning to get a little bored until a hail storm hit the house without warning at around 8 minutes and turned it all into something quite magical.
“Dazed And Diffused” – another bloated and hirsute rock n’ roll institution reference; this time Led Zeppelin, you jokers! – is shorter at just under six minutes, and crawls along on its face with a sense of panicked yet resigned dread. “The Last Words” incorporates gorgeously warm long tones. It is followed by the intriguingly titled “At The End Of The Tunnel There Is Always A Lie” which does nothing but perpetuate the feelings of unease instigated by “Dazed And Diffused”. The second half of the disc feels as though (though probably isn’t – I have no real evidence to back this up) the last three tracks are all part of one long improvisation, with ID positions inserted at appropriate points. This adds to the overall cohesive and structured nature of these pieces and enhances the enjoyment of same immensely.
Mikroton should be commended for their impeccable programming of quality titles and Here Comes The Sun is the latest in a line of top-drawer recordings released by this Russian label. Their impressive back catalogue features other great projects involving big names like Jason Kahn, Lee Patterson, John Butcher, Rhodri Davies, Mark Wastell, Tetuzi Akiyama, John Tilbury, Werner Dafeldecker, Keith Rowe and many more. Well worth spending some time investigating this label, I’d say. Let me know how you get on. Edition of 300.

Vital Weekly, Frans de Waard:
A bit older are the 2008 recordings from a trio of which I only recognize Kai Fagaschinski (clarinet); also here are Barbara Romen on hammered dulcimer and Gunter Schneider (guitars). The six pieces were recorded in a single day in Vienna at the Amann Studios (obviously, I almost added, where all this weird stuff is recorded). With this release we enter a territory that is well covered in these pages. That of the carefully constructed improvised music. It plinks and it plonks, instruments do not sound like how they normally do, but act as resonating boxes or sine wave apparatus. You may think I may not like this, but in fact I actually do like this. It is perhaps not something I haven’t heard before but who cares about that? These three players created some thoughtful, intense improvised music in which ‘silence’ meets up with something that might very well be the opposite and sometimes in a matter of seconds. Nothing new, but very nice indeed.

Gonzo Circus, Guy Peters:
Hakkebordspeelster Barbara Romen en gitarist Gunter Schneider zijn al zo’n kwarteeuw muzikale- en levenspartners en doorgaans in elkaars buurt te vinden, ook al kan de context nogal verschillen. Zo kwam in GC #108 nog een album aan bod van het kwartet Quadrat:sch, waar ze deel van uitmaken. Met die band creëerden ze muziek die vooral inzette op compacte, lichtvoetige en vaak zeer ritmische stukken, heel wat anders dan wat op ‘Here Comes The Sun’ te horen valt. Deze samenwerking met de iets jongere, in Berlijn gebaseerde klarinettist Kai Fagaschinski houdt zich immers op binnen de wereld van de gestaag verschuivende, vrije improvisatie. Doorheen deze zes stukken, waarvan er vier boven de tien minutengrens belanden, wordt een enorm subtiel en afgewogen spel van klanken en harmonieën gespeeld, waarbij elke muzikant een brede bagage aanspreekt en gebruik maakt van onalledaagse technieken om geluiden te produceren waar moeilijk grip op te krijgen valt. Zo’n hakkebord wordt doorgaans met stokjes bespeeld, maar begin erover te wrijven, bewerk het met draden of andere objecten, en het doet het ene moment denken aan een accordeon en het andere aan een draailier, harp of analoge synthesizer. Hetzelfde geldt voor Schneider en Fagaschinski, die nergens toegeven aan eenvoudige melodieën of duidelijke scharnierbewegingen. Dat levert doorgaans muziek op van een indrukwekkende gelaagdheid en intense focus (zelfs in passages die flirten met de volstrekte stilte), met regelmatig een tranceachtig effect, maar de homogeniteit van de plaat is meteen ook zijn achilleshiel. Het gebeurt immers allemaal zo coherent, gedoseerd en bedachtzaam, dat deze opnames uit 2008 wat reliëf missen, wat prikkels, en uiteindelijk ook een beetje saai zijn.

The Wire, Richard Pinnell:
Beautiful, filigree arrangements of the most delicately chosen sounds, Here Comes The Sun is the first recorded outing of a Berlin/Vienna trio that has performed on and off together for six or seven years. The craftsmanship of this hammered dulcimer/clarinet/guitars trio, borne out of many years of playing together in composed and improvised music, is put to use in six incredibly fragile small pieces. The music is airy, gentle and slow paced. Everything is thoroughly refined down to the barest elements – softly plucked guitar notes or dulcimer chimes sound against warm yet unobtrusive clarinet or vice versa. There is a distinct sense of distant melody always present, with nothing ever coming even close to a tune, but with an emotional warmth throughout. Hard to pin down to any one simple category, this is achingly beautiful music formed out simple ingredients.

FreiStil, Andreas Fellinger:
Man hört auf here comes the sun an allen Ecken und Enden die Erotik der Stille knistern. Nahe an der Grenze zum Fastnichts erlebt die Konzentration auf das Wesentliche in diesem gemischten Trio fröhliche Urständ’. Das Ausloten des Minimums an Hackbrett, Gitarre und Klarinette gehört zu den Spezialdisziplinen von Barbara Romen, Gunter Schneider und Kai Fagaschinski, ihre feine Abmischung zu jenen der Wiener Amann Studios und ihre Publizierung zu jenen des Moskauer Mikroton-Labels von Vladimir Kudryatsev. In dieser nicht definierbaren Grauzone, in der die Drei sich bewegen, wimmelt es gemeinhin vor unstrukturierten Egozentren. Nicht so in diesem Fall: ein feiner roter Faden durchzieht das Album, Spurenelemente von Songs finden sich darin, Andeutungen einer strengen Form, smarte Kurven und Brüche inklusive. Ein Album zum immer wieder Hören, transparent vermittelt in einer Offenheit, die weder dümmer noch klüger tut, als sie es ist. Da geht die Sonne auf.

Le Son Du Grisli, Guillaume Belhomme:
Premier disque d’une association qui, depuis 2006, met en commun l’intérêt que Barbara Romen (hammered dulcimer), Gunter Schneider (guitares) et Kai Fagaschinski (clarinette), trouvent à la recherche de sons inusuels, Here Comes the Sun donne à entendre un couple de Viennois inquiet de musique contemporaine autant que d’Echtzeitmusik – collaborations avec Burkhard Stangl, Christof Kurzmann – et l’un de ses plus brillants fureteurs.
Leur démarche est lente, bien sûr, mais les premiers reliefs, bien qu’ajourés, ne sont-ils pas considérables ? Propice à la contemplation, l’air ambiant fait naître quelques questions : Sun Ra, par exemple, n’aurait-il pas trouvé chez Romen et Schneider d’autres Strange Strings que les siennes ? Pincées ou délicatement agacées, en appelant à l’arpège s’il accepte d’être court, rétablissant d’un grave ou d’un feedback l’équilibre menacé, toutes ont ici leur place, et même leur rôle.
Quant à Fagaschinski : sa première ascension n’était-elle pas un message adressé à ses deux partenaires : qu’ils quittent donc le champ de la rumeur et rejoignent, à force de flux et de reflux, le domaine de l’affirmation ! Alors, voici le dulcimer changé en soufflerie et la guitare accusant quelques coups, double transformation dont les conséquences feront le pouls de l’enregistrement… Et le soleil fut.

Just Outside, Brian Olewnick:
A 2008 recording with Romen (hammered dulcimer), Fagaschinski (clarinet) and Schneider (guitars). Interesting to hear the dulcimer (often sounding like one) in this kind of context. The music is soft, gray and somber, bearing strong tonal underpinnings, freely improvised but in a pastoral sort of way. I might even go so far as to say that some portions, much of “Feelings Without End” for instance, could constitute an ECM-ish branch of eai…Which isn’t to say that it’s all pastels. It’s highly listenable throughout, some nice pulses feeding in here and there, the colors always clear and refreshing. Fagaschinski, as ever, is wonderfully warm and controlled. I can’t recall if this is my first real exposure to Romen and Schneider, but both offer subtle, not overly-instrusive contributions. This said, there’s nothing terribly memorable here either, though the final track, “plainchant and Goodbye”, manages to transcend the rest, it’s calm resolve evoking a mysterious forward motion that’s very attractive. It emerges, passes, one experiences a short pleasant sensation and that’s it. Maybe enough.

Improv Sphere, Julien Heraud:
Ici, trois artistes que je ne connaissais pas: Barbara Romen au hammered dulcimer (sorte de cymbalum), Kai Fagaschinski à la clarinette, et Gunter Schneider à la guitare acoustique. Il s’agit d’une suite de six pièces improvisées, calmes, lentes, axées sur des longues notes et des nappes interminables qui évoluent par micro-variations. Il n’y a pas vraiment de techniques étendues, il s’agit avant tout de notes qui forment des accords sans rapport hiérarchique ni structurel. Les notes sont jouées pour leur qualité sonore et acoustique, avec une grande attention portée sur les attaques, l’intensité et les propriétés acoustiques propres à chaque instrument. Un jeu sur une texture faite de notes frappées, soufflées et pincées. Une musique assez sensible mais qui ne retient pas forcément l’attention, car les textures ne sont pas beaucoup développées dans la durée et l’ambiance reste sensiblement similaire tout au long des pièces. Reste un timbre et un univers sonore singuliers, notamment du fait de l’instrumentation. Pour les curieux et amateurs d’ improvisation minimaliste et contemplative.

Free Jazz Blog, Dan Sorrells:
Here Comes the Sun is a long, moody record, an hour of improvisations with no clearly defined rhythm, but always a sense of trajectory; movement is created through tension and color. The music is delicate and unhurried, long drapes of sound, or at times sparkling fields of notes, like light on water. Hammered dulcimer is not a particularly common instrument in free improvisation, but Romen deploys it to great effect, evoking harps, humming oscillators, even muted piano at times. The dulcimer and Schneider’s guitar coast along Fagaschinski’s pure clarinet, creating utterly beautiful, immersive music. “Who’s There?” asks the opening track. Some formidable improvisers, I’d say.