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"antiphonen" by dieb13, sainkho namtchylak and ned rothenberg. cd klanggalerie 2020"

Sainkho Namtchylak: Voice
Ned Rothenberg: Clarinet, Alto Sax, Sakuhachi
dieb13: Turntables, klopfer

1.) SHave and a Haircut 40:36
2.) Two Bits 11:00

Played live at Music Unlimited 33 / Alter Schlachthof Wels, Nov. 8 2019
Recorded by Christoph "fiezl" Hehn
Edited and mixed by Ned Rothenberg and Dieter Kovačič
Mastered by Martin Bowes at The Cage

reviews: review:

Sainkho Namtchylak (voice), Ned Rothenberg (clarinet, alto saxophone, shakuhachi), and Dieb13 (turntables) play freely for two tracks across 52 minutes on the live recording, Antiphonen. Namtchylak and Rothenberg have a rich history together, first recorded on 1996’s Amulet and accelerating in recent years with the formation of SainkhoKosmos, which can be heard on Cafe Oto’s 6.8.17 and Echo of the Ancestors. This is the first time Dieb13 performed with Namtchylak and Rothenberg but the electronics musician - perhaps best known for his compelling collaborations with Burkhard Stangl, Mats Gustaffson, and eRikm, or his contributions to this year’s massive Soigne Ta Droite - elevates the long-time duo to heights unseen since their first meetings.

Antiphonen ’s two tracks appear to be a set and an encore, with “Shave and a Haircut” taking up the first forty-or-so minutes. As expected with a freely-improvised set, it meanders and flows, without much structure but making sense from moment to moment. Each musician provides an impressive range for their chosen instrumentation. Dieb13 produces a collage of vinyl crackle, bowed strings, ringing gongs, squirrely squeaks, tea kettle whistles, bass throbs and drops, foghorns, and much more. Rothenberg freely transitions between saxophone, shakuhachi, and clarinet, between noirish lines, snaking, circular whirls, and austere, breathy, ghostly flute punctuations. Namtchylak has eight octaves to choose from and a small menagerie of extended techniques, from her native Tuvan throat singing to scat-like skittering with some light cheek- and breath-play. They communicate not just through response but also mimickry, with Namtchylak crackling her voice like vinyl or Dieb13 producing something like altosax overtones and tongue slaps (at times it seems he was sampling Rothenberg live). Rothenberg’s sometimes Klezmer-inflected contributions, a music meant to imitate the voice, fits perfectly with Namtchylak’s wails, cries, and distorted laughs; similarly, Namtchylak’s occasional overtone-producing throat singing fits perfectly with Rothenberg’s often multiphonic approach to his reed’s harmonics. Rothenberg and Dieb13 are particularly locked-in for most of the set, producing an entrancing foundation upon which Namtchylak builds and which would be an interesting listening by itself. The set ends climactically, with a meditative sung drone, winding sax lines, and deep bass steppes. “Two Bits” is a digest of the set, beginning quietly but quickly building to commanding bass electronics, freewheeling reeds, and howls. Whereas Namtchylak’s voice often felt draped over the other musicians’ inputs on “Shave and a Haircut,” “Two Bits” presents a more unified trio.

Some of Rothenberg and Namtchylak’s collaborations tread the laid-back feeling of lounge rock and trip hop with their glossy production, like Stepmother City or Echo of the Ancestors. There’s a greater energy and immediacy in their live performances together, captured on Amulet, 6.8.17, and here. Amulet succeeds not just because of a complimentary approach to folk musics or overtones, but Namtchylak’s emotional rawness. On Antiphonen, her contributions are more restrained, significantly less guttural, less visceral. The effect is a confusing emotivity without the cathartic payoff; her sighs, wails, and cries carry the emotional baggage of human communication but seem uninvested in it. Surely a challenge for many vocalists. Still, this is a worthwhile snapshot of this famous duo - the best since Amulet, I think - with an intriguing addition in Dieb13, who serves as a kind of medium for both Rothenberg’s electroacoustic collaborations and Namtchylak’s more produced efforts but with a vitality greater than each.

-- Keith Prosk

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Japanese guitarist Kazuhisha Uchihashi, who was one of the c0-curators of the Unlimited Music Festival in Wels, Austrian, in 2019, initiated the performance of the trio of distinct, master improvisers – Tuvan vocal artist Sainkho Namtchylak (who also painted the cover art, «winter day is like a running dog across the street»), American reeds player Ned Rothenberg and Viennese turntables wizard die13 (aka Dieter Kovačič, who is also a hacker, filmmaker and conscientious copyright objector). The Vienna-based Namtchylak, known for her Tuvan throat singing, Khöömei, has collaborated with Peter Kowald, Evan Parker and began working with Rothenberg about 25 years ago, first in a duo format («Amulet», Leo, 1996) and more recently with her SainkhoKosmos («6.8.1»7, OtoRoku, 2017, and «Echoes of the Ancestors», 2019). She performed before with dieb13 but «Antiphonen» documents the first-ever performance of this trio.

Fortunately, I experienced this performance live, and from very close to the stage, and more than a year later I enjoy it even more. During the first improvisation, Namtchylak covered her shaved head with a red balaclava, therefore the first extended piece is ironically titled “A Shave and a Haircut”. Without this eccentric distraction, there is more time to enjoy her infinite palette of vocal and her unique way of telling strange and even weirder, cryptic and free-associative stories without articulating even one comprehensible word, but with great pathos and a compelling sense of drama. Rothenberg and dieb13 orchestrated and framed her cryptic, ecstatic stories wisely. Rothenberg with clever, sharp rhythmic ideas, and often with an aroma of fragile, meditative lyricism, while dieb13 added more ironic yet subtle and insightful orchestral layers. Namtchylak sounds on this piece as soaring high on her own mysterious space pathways, while Rothenberg and dieb13 act as the pillars of her intergalactic arkestra. This piece ends with an intense, emotional coda, with Rothenberg sketching a playful melody, echoed by Namtchylak’s vocals and embraced by dieb13’s roaring, atmospheric sounds.

The second, short improvisation «Two Bits» suggests a more democratic, conversational improvisation between Namtchylak, Rothenberg and dieb13. Each vocal or reed gesture is immediately transformed by dieb13 into surprising, highly eccentric and rich sonic collages that shed some sobering light on Namtchylak’s secretive stories.

-- Eyal Hareuveni

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