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No Furniture - No Furniture

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Artist: No Furniture

Album: No Furniture

Label: Creative Sources

Review date: May. 6, 2004

Germany's No Furniture includes Boris Baltschun on sampler, Kai Fagaschinski on clarinet and the veteran trumpeter Axel Dörner, who also plays computer. Dörner has traditional jazz chops, but now eschews linear, expressive playing in favor of extended-technique noises. What he's doing now requires chops of very different kinds, such as the ability to evenly blow air through his horn for twenty seconds at a stretch. It isn't easy, and Dörner does it as precisely as anyone.

That may seem like guitar-school praise, but Dörner's (and Fagaschinski's) technique has a lot to do with what No Furniture ultimately sounds like. Dörner and Fagaschinski were trying to make their instruments sound electronic, and they've done so here so well that most traces of humanity have been erased. Dörner often uses long tones and breath sounds, which are dense, complex and consistent enough to be mistaken for radio static. But it's Fagaschinski who wins the Helmut Lachenmann Award for making his instrument almost completely unrecognizable, and not in the 'if you're not paying attention too closely' way in which those sorts of comments are usually intended. His palette of sounds is amazing: it's clear that's he's studied electronic sound carefully, and you'll swear you've heard some of the sounds he makes in electronic contexts. Fagaschinski is usually only identifiable through process of elimination.

That process is made a bit easier because Baltschun's and Dörner's electronics (Dörner's sometimes include the processed sounds of his trumpet) actually sound as if they're created by human beings; although the timbres of the electronics clearly sound, well, electronic, they are often deployed in a spasmodic and aggressive manner. These days there's a lot of overlap between extended technique-based improv and sparse, quiet improv, but No Furniture isn't a part of that. Instead, it has more in common with louder, electronics-based improv albums like EKG's Object 2 or the recent dafeldecker/kurzmann/drumm/eRikm/dieb13/noetinger on Charhizma. No Furniture is the most confidently controlled of the three, and the only one in which acoustic instruments are consistently and audibly an integral part of its electronic-sounding textures.

By Charlie Wilmoth

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