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5 June 2017
By Frans de Waard in Vital (Netherlands), June 5, 2017

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“Everything buzzes and sustains, but it moves; there is no question of a standstill.”

On the website of Tour de Bras there is an explanation of this project: “Rowetor is a musical concept inspired by the guitar player Keith Rowe. The aim of the piece is to explore one static sound in the ensemble, to maintain it and in the same time interact with utmost care and openness for any necessary change”, and during two nights in 2015 and 2016 (September 30 and June 3), Carl Ludwig Hübsch, armed with his tuba, gathered a bunch of people on stage at the famous jazz club The Loft, in Cologne, Germany, to perform this. Maybe it’s something he did before, seeing this is ’Rowetor 03’ and ’Rowetor 04’? In the latter we have thirteen players, mostly names I didn’t recognize, and in the first we have two more players, of which I only recognized the names Sharif Sehnaoui on acoustic guitar and Phlip Zoubek on piano (but I admit I didn’t search the entire history of Vital Weekly for each individual player). Hübsch gets credit for the composition and the mix; hence he’s listed here in the header of the review. I am not sure to what extent it is actually composed, or whether there are a bunch of guidelines along which the players can act and have freedom to play. ’03’ is thirty-three minutes and ’04’ is forty-two minutes. In both of these pieces time moves very slowly and individual instruments are blurred in the bigger picture. It is very hard to recognize in here, say, an acoustic guitar, bass, alto clarinet, low percussion, viola d’amore on ’movement (inaudible)’ as played by Phuong Bui. Everything buzzes and sustains, but it moves; there is no question of a standstill. Upon close inspection, there is more happening ’Rowetor 03’ than in ’Rowetor 04’, but I must admit I seemed to enjoy the long quiet second half of the latter better. Everything becomes dark and spooky, like something big is going to happen, but all it does it build a mild crescendo towards the end, and then a gentle fade out. ’Rowetor 04’ had an almost sine wave character most of the times, whereas ’Rowetor 03’ sounded more orchestral in approach. It is not a bad piece, far from it, as this is cloud of sound passing over, dark and ominous, but in terms of preference I’d go for ’Rowetor 04, with it’s suppressed suspension. It could have fitted on a single CD but it makes sense to do it on two.

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