Danish avant-garde artist Lars Graugaard has teamed up with the young German modern jazz drummer Moritz Baumgärtner and experimental e-guitarist Keisuke Matsuno, and their joint effort, recorded one day in September 2016 in rudely demolished Berlin is an intense and impressive, jazz & rock & techno-driven experimental affair.
Baumgärtner contributes an expansive drumming style with lots of boom and room but he also makes more delicate and psychedelic percussion figures that lie somewhere between jazz and avant-garde. The electronic sounds are very varied and evolve throughout the album into electronic soundscapes of dark noise that are blended in with mysterious, sonic gestures of very different moods. And Matsuno is a highly original performer who is able to tear out the most extravagant, distraught, unheard-within-the-unheard sounds from his instrument.
A powerful display that heralds some unpredictable developments and striking results.
Video by Iñaki Muñoz
All compositions by Keisuke Matsuno (electric guitar), Moritz Baumgärtner (drums and percussion) and Lars Graugaard (laptop)
Recorded September 25, 2016 by Zodiaque Tonproduktion, at H2 Studios, Berlin
Recording engineers Markus Abendroth and Peter Thomas
Edit, mix and mastered by Lars Graugaard
Produced by Keisuke Matsuno, Moritz Baumgärtner and Lars Graugaard
Graphic design by Lars Graugaard
Danish laptop artist Lars Graugaard has teamed up with German drummer Moritz Baumgärtner and Brooklyn-based guitarist Keisuke Matsuno to negotiate the limits of human perception. The result is a truly wild hybrid of freeform, clichéd and otherwise depleted rock vestiges and experimental electronics on the one hand, and ambient, psychedelic soundscapes on the other. What begins as a high-energy, almost classic improvisation soon turns into some overt frightening, drone-based sonic architecture only to make room for techno structures, until all track is finally lost as to who exactly has to take responsibility for what. Neither laptop, guitar or drums seem to be particularly well intended but instead display a voracious appetite for each other, and in the mutually digestive process produce sounds of such gravely disturbing consequence that it is a real pleasure for those who want to have their listening habits put thoroughly to the test. Absolutely!
With Crumble, Keisuke Matsuno, Moritz Baumgärtner & Lars Graugaard show little desire to take prisoners. This is where the Danish Computer Master, the German exceptional drummer and the Japanese extreme guitarist are playing a fine battle for sonic supremacy. Which in fact reads too belligerent, because the almost 50 minutes of top-class improvised music also has its quiet, almost meditative parts, such as Unspoken. 4/5
Guitar (Matsuno), drums (Baumgärtner) and laptop (Graugaard) are the tools of choice for this international trio. They even reach meditative moods in free improvisations that mostly lies within quite heavy rock, not even shying away from a probably not quite serious blues-rock flirtation. But above all, they let it rumble quite neatly, only with Graugaard’s laptop giving grounds for the odd Rockism complaint. Suits me. (stone)
A guitarist, an e-guitarist and a drummer get together in Berlin and record some raw and lengthy post-jazz workouts in a single day… no, it’s not the beginning of an avant-garde “walked into a bar” joke, it’s the background to Crumble. Guitars twang, reverberate and twist over some mostly organic drum sounds and rumbling sub-basses and atmospherics. It has a fairly thick echo chamber treatment throughout.
Though relatively short opener Surfing On Ramen Noodles kicks off bluntly and at full pelt, things calm down by several notches when we reach Unspoken, a relatively sparse bit of guitar plucking over some ambient noises that are hard to place, and which seem willing to take it in turns to arrive, never really getting busy or over-layered. It gets progressively even more spacious, very barren by halfway through that 14 minute piece.
Industry City turns back into more chaotic territory, with glitchier cuts and minuscule white noise stabs forming something that’s almost relentlessly cacophonous. Final piece This Against That has a more stop-start attitude, bringing forth electronic tapestop-style effects into more distinct peaks and troughs, with an attitude that just begins to border on relaxed and funky, in relative terms. A final drop into much softer, occasional playing gives us a soft landing at the end.
A fairy hard-to-pigeonhole release with elements of prog rock, avant-garde jazz, and electronica, Crumble is one of those instrumental works that can properly be described as a journey – a weird and at times slightly difficult one, but certainly an interesting trip.
Lars Graugaard has come up with ideas both with the drummer Moritz Baumgärtner and with the guitarist Keisuke Matsuno that they want to explore further. One year after the exciting duo projects »INVISIBLE« and »WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED« (both on clang) a new album appears, also spontaneously made in Berlin, on which all three improvise. Since electric guitarist Keisuke Matsuno has moved significantly around John Zorn and Jim Black in his time in New York City, “CRUMBLE” turns out as a very different proposition than the recent duo projects.
At times you can hear techno-influenced elements, but “CRUMBLE” is not at all an electronically and beat-oriented album, but instead belongs to the Noise and Jazz genres. That’s a pity, because many others have already laid down more exciting work here, especially the aforementioned artists. Baumgärtner occasionally bangs thoroughly to match the electric outpourings, but the passages where all three are closely intermingled and turn into a psychedelic trio are more appealing. At times, this adds up to a rousing and dazzlingly versatile flow of sound between Postrock, Noise, Beats, Techno and Drone, especially in the best track »Unspoken«. And good memories of This Heat come up in the final track, as it ends in proper Minimalism.
But free improvisation is not always the best procedure, and “CRUMBLE” could have been even more exciting if the trio had worked a little more with the material, either making the spontaneous sessions into more concise pieces or more courageously developing the material with electronic processing.