Article Courtesy


(Lawrence Casserley - Martin Mayes - Gianni Mimmo)

By Ermes Rosina

Tempio Valdese – Torino, Italy - 26.09.2009

This was a rather special evening (unfortunately increasingly rare) of free improvisation in the sweeping aisles of the Waldesian Church in Turin which hosted the trio Granularities for its first concert of a short Italian tour. The opening notes rang out with resonances created by Martin Mayes’ horn and Gianni Mimmo’s soprano sax, who immediately plunged the listener into a rarefied atmosphere of suspense, as they converged slowly from the very back of the church towards the apse.

In the apse Lawrence Casserley (who is especially known for his work with Evan Parker’s Electro-acoustic Ensemble) performed with an intrecate digital interface to manipulate, extend and bend sounds: both his own (with his voice and performed on gongs, oriental percussion and self-built instruments) as well as the sounds played into microphones by the other two musicians. The listeners were drawn note by note into an unceasing transformation of the spatial and temporal coordinates.

The sense of time and space was at times expanded by the acoustics of the church and by the use of loudspeakers in quadrophony which relayed the electronic sounds layered and diffracted by Casserley. At other times it contracted when the reverberations around the nave became focused in the apse in instrumental solos and duos, intensely concise, devoid of rhetorical excess, underpinned by a discrete use of extended instrumental technique and of noise. In a similar fashion the use of pitch shifting boosted sudden accelerations of time, gradually gravitating into accretions which expanded through echoes and drones and which either returned back to what had just been heard or anticipated something which was to emerge shortly afterwards.

Another feature which shifted the listeners’ perceptions was Mayes’ and Mimmo’s use of circular movements which set the sounds of their instruments oscillating, enriched by live processing which was never invasive, not even in the moments of utmost disharmony.

The alphorn made its mark both timbrally and visually as Mayes drew from it not only the solemn and sombre sonority which is normally associated with this instrument but also radiant, dancing rhythms suggestive of jazz.

The ringing of tubular bell-like wind chimes hung from a rotating support spun by Mayes, created harmonics which were so delicate as to be almost bewitching. They were given a sense of corporeity by Mimmo’s sax lines which were shot through with slap tongue or deformed by a carefully sculpted roughness.

The textures woven by Casserley created an elusiveness in the distinction between cause and effect, between the instrumental sounds and their “virtual double”, transforming one into another in a sort of endless feedback. Strange to say, this is after all about a concert, yet this music becomes an expression of Hsin-hsin-ming’s famous Zen saying “There is neither “Other” nor “I” (...) All that can be expressed is: “Not two””.

Translated by Martin Mayes