Tuesday, 20 September 2011

mopomoso @ vortex, 09/18/2011

Mopomoso (a.k.a. MOdernism POst MOdernism SO what?) is a group of improvisers founded in 1991 by guitarist John Russell and pianist, trupeter, composer Chris Burn. Following a distinctive tradition in improvised music, and especially here in London, the goal of the collective is in promoting free improvisation through  collective sessions once per month at the Vortex Jazz Club; a good way of sharing experiences, networking and enjoy music with the audience. 

The opening trio tonight is composed by singer Portia WintersOren Marshall at Orenophone (his personal variation on a tuba) and Illi Adato (electronics). What comes out is apart from common improv free-blowing sessions, gifting the audience with a gentle and colourful performance, with Marshall literally deconstructing and reconstructing sound and the tuba itself in the middle of the stage while Winter's singing, a less dramatic and more fluent version of Jeanne Lee's avant-scat, even if with pop nuances interspersed and a warm and sheer timbre, draws little flurries of octaves alternating with short spoken sketches. 

Illi Adato is the perfect partner, using electronics more as a companion to the gestures of his mates than as a rhythm-injecting machine. Theatrical and minimalist, but effective, their set picked up Fluxus legacy in a personal manner, with unassessed nonchalance as the result of a spontaneous flowing, in which silence, pauses and sound are channeled together. No suprise since Marshall, born in Geneva in 1966, played in his past with the likes of Tony Allen, Mark Sanders, Steve Noble, the London Sinfonietta and the Pan-African Orchestra amongst many others.

The second set is Sylvia Hallett playing violin and a bycicle wheel plucked and arcoed. Ms Hallett was active part of the London Musician Collective since its' very beginning. Responsible of installing electricity in the first LMC headquarter - a flat in a Camden building - near 1977, as of the debut performance of the Bow Gamelan Ensemble in 1983, her music is somewhere between exotic echoes - sarangi, anklung, mbira are some of her tools on records and live performances, her viola playing - but she teaches also piano and accordeon - and an attitude and sensibility that put melody, abstract and overtones together.

At a certain point she echoes the bowed sounds while her plucking on the spokes was reminding of some bells on a distant background. While often composers or electronic musicians use field recordings in order to layering and texturizing different plans of sound putting them usually at the same level, Hallett's sensibility gives shape to spacey landscapes in which the elements resonate on different levels, with an inner and precise coherence.

Last gig is provided by the Haman Quintet, currently touring through London before coming back in Berlin. Altoist Anna Kaluza, violinist Alison Blunt, sopranist Manuel Miethe, pianist Nikolai Meinhold and bassist Horst Nonnemacher gifted the audience with a continuous flowing of particles of sound. Their set is the most dense and close-grained tonight. 

Nonnemacher, collaborator of Alex Von Schlippenbach, Sam Rivers and Jim Black, but also composer and arranger and part with Miethe of the Levitation: Trio, plunges into his bass digging out a deep and vivid groove. Miethe and Kaluza horn lines are usually lateral and atonal, so to speak. A colleague claimed for the quintet such references as Ligeti, Lachenmann, Nono and Scelsi, but what's more on the foreground is the fluid interplay and the players palettes and tools matching together with sophisticated coherence.

Meinhold - who studied piano with Aki Takase and workshopped with the likes of John Taylor, Ken Vandermark and Ray Anderson - uses a voluntarily minimal approach to piano, chalking up an upper note after the other in order to build short, chiming and jingling phrases, while his plucking on the strings enters perfectly in touch with the flurrying of the music.

While expecting to see again Evan Paker on Tuesday, 23, with the young electroacustic improvisers Grutronic, tonight's venue can be taken as the perfect introduction to London's - and beyond - improvised music scene. 

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