AMM - Trinity (Matchless, 2008) ****½
I have this very hard to explain ambiguous attitude towards this kind of new music. I know people who get absolutely wild over Keith Rowe's recent music, while for me it's hard to appreciate it, because nothing happens (I know, some say a lot is happening, but it's too subtle for the likes of me to understand, which might of course well be the case).
This record, by AMM, with Eddie Prévost on percussion, John Tilbury on piano and John Butcher on soprano and tenor saxophone, really is great. True, like much of this kind of music, it is barely touched silence, but the sensitivity, the quiet elaboration, the inimaginable self-control, the aesthetic beauty are absolutely rare. As you might expect, most of the time the instruments do not sound like themselves, creating new textures, new voices, new timbres, eery, pleading voices created out of shadows and early morning fog. But then at other moments it sounds industrial like some heavy grinding unoiled machinery, or organic like blood flowing, birds whispering, flowers weeping, trapped animals screeching, mongooses fornicating, ... but whatever it is, there is tension, there is something going on, providing for a captivating listening experience, even if is hard to describe and difficult to place. And on top of all that, there is a piano to hear, and a sax, and percussion. For almost 45 years this band (or duo?) has managed to keep the interest going, keeping their positioning intact of making music that is not influenced by anything else, including the need to create imagery with references to the real world. After so many years, it still does have that approach and it still sounds like nothing you've heard before, which is by itself a remarkable feat. So leave all preconceptions aside, stop rationalizing, stop fantasizing even, and listen to this, get sucked into this musical universe and marvel at it.
(And AMM stands for "Audacis Musicae Magistri", which is Latin for "The Masters of Audacious Music").
29th January 2010
(note from Matchless: a good assumption gathered from some remarkable research but AMM does not mean Audacis Musicae Magistri.)