Ken Waxman of JAZZ WORD (Canada) enlightens us with a fine review of HUGO COSTA & PHILIPP ERNSTING’ THE ART OF CRASHING, which we released last year on our label. The album is of course available through our bandcamp store.

“The Netherlands’ long-time reputation for promoting freedom of expression has certainly been confirmed in the field of free music. Not only have local improvisers established themselves internationally, but exploratory musicians from elsewhere have gravitated there as well. The Art of Crashing was artfully created in Rotterdam by two city residents who are actually German (drummer Philipp Ernsting) or Portuguese (alto saxophonist Hugo Costa).

More aggressive and abstract in their interactions, the Rotterdam-based duo coordinates convulsive reed shrieks with minimal but powerful anchoring percussion coloring, Costa and Ernsting construct and then extend many of the tracks, but with enough cohesion so that the linear thread remains. “Blind Spot” for instance is taken prestissimo, with cymbal patterns, paradiddle pops, and subtle metal clunks cushioning the reed work. Costa’s strained clarion squeaks and bites present a logic of their own as he appears to examine every single note and its extensions, sometimes in Aylerain altisssimo until wooden drum pops signal the finale. Although near-toneless breaths and percussion rattles make up the sonic landscape elsewhere, the most distinct impression comes when the duo is in free form. There are even some quick changes involved. The introduction to “Nowhere Fast” for instance, suggests that it will become a standard Bebop melody, that’s quickly shattered as the drummer subdues his backing to hushed nerve beats and bass drum resonations. Concurrently the saxophone toughens his story-telling beeps and blips to repeated honks mixed with split tones and soon bulks up his output to continuous multiphonics. As doits, flattement sand sopranissimo screams are exhibited in turn the piece climaxes as exploratory as it was traditional at the top.

Stripped to essentials of wood, metal, skin, and cork, it’s easy to see why so many questing musicians take up this minimalist challenge. Additionally, this disc shows exactly what sort of quality sounds can be created in this configuration.”