Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Drowning in Sonic Variety

Andreas Willers

Drowning Migrant

Leo CD LR 532

Andreas Willers has been recording for many imprints since 1981 as a leader and with such artists as Paul Bley, Gebhard Ullmann, and Louis Sclavis. But even an avant-garde guitarist with as extensive a pedigree as Willers must be excited to have two labels releasing solo albums in the same year. In 2009, Drowning Migrant appears on Leo, while Jazzwerkstatt presents Orange Years. According to the artist, each has a very different approach to music-making. I can only comment on the Leo release, as I’ve yet to nab a copy of Orange Years (stay tuned).

Drowning Migrant exhibits an engaging, multifaceted approach to experimental solo playing. The sonic palette Willers employs is diverse and robust. On pieces like the title track and “Eight Nocturnes,” it sometimes seems like the soundscaping atmospheres of Frippertronics on steroids. But “Cranberry Pineapple” show jazz chops aplenty, while “Extrakt 4” is a shredding fusion vignette. Elsewhere, there’s a bit of whimsy. Breatharan” uses vocal sounds (primarily, intakes of air and exhalations) and melodica, while “Industrial Banjo” distresses and mutates banjo sounds in an extended alt-electronica tone poem. Drowning Migrant may not concern itself with coalescence into an overarching approach, but it’s a rewarding mélange of a host of styles and sounds.

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