Over the last few years, the combination of electronics and improvisation has steadily gained momentum, with a number of collaborations between electronic musicians and improvisers coming to light. In the spirit of an approach adopted by Spring Heel Jack’s Ashley Wales and John Coxon with 2001s ‘Masses’, Fourtet’s Kieran Hebden has teamed up with veteran free-jazz drummer Steve Reid, Leafcutter John with Polar Bear and Squarepusher’s Tom Jenkinson has been collaborating with saxophone virtuoso Evan Parker.
‘Nowhere’ arrives on this landscape at what would seem like quite a poignant moment, documenting a collaboration begun in 2005 between Isambard Khroustaliov (AKA Sam Britton from the electronic duo Icarus) and bass clarinet player Lothar Ohlmeier, and as is perhaps suggested by the title, it takes yet another very different view on the territory proposed by attempting to combine two musical worlds as dense and diverse as improvisation and live electronics.
Approaching the area as a kind of unknown ‘zone’ and working in a manner not too dissimilar to the central character in Andrei Tarkovsky’s ‘Stalker’, Khroustaliov and Ohlmeier remain consciously wary of the paths of least resistance; reluctant to second-guess the various boundaries and forms that might characterise this amorphous space and, as a result, continually re-working their musical approaches.
Unsurprisingly then, it is also an exploration that has kept them occupied for a relatively long period of time. The record has been 3 years in the making and has encompassed a residency at IRCAM in Paris (working on new electronic performance software with scientific researcher Diemo Schwarz) and performances at improvised music meetings, jazz and experimental music festivals all over Europe.
The result is a record that documents a collaboration ranging in scope from tentative ideas to full blown virtuosity, from extremes of contrast to extreme lyricism, whilst never compromising its intention; to evolve an idiomatic musical language that is lyrical and rich enough to describe a path through this emerging landscape.