The otherworldly scraping, chiming, bellowing, whistling and underwater groaning of the 17-minute "New Orleans" might seem abrasive or annoying to some less-patient listeners. But that age-old complaint "it's not music" will find no purchase here.
There's no denying that these dense and dark avant-garde improvisations by this Berlin-based duo are music, and some pretty amazing music at that. The three extended cuts on this EP are named for the American cities in which they were recorded live. Double bass and laptop player Klaus Janek and multi-instrumental manipulator Simon Berz weave a tapestry of experimental sound that is always compelling, and never a pointless wank.
Elsewhere on "New Orleans," we hear what sounds like a dented melodica, some shallow trap drums and an electric drill; the pretty noises are often juxtaposed with the un-pretty ones, creating dramatic tension. "Baltimore," in contrast, is a quieter journey through the dark recesses of the heart, anchored in metronomic industrial sounds that might fit well in a David Lynch film. The lighter, comforting drone of "Philadelphia" could be compared to the cooing of some exotic zoo animal, against which Janek bows his bass, creating high flutters, low rumbles and cacophonic blasts.
Fans of artists as diverse as Jesu, Einstürzende Neubauten and Nurse With Wound likely will find this work interesting, while one might also suspect Dave Holland's free-jazz milestone Conference of the Birds as an influence.