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efzeg "grain" durian 2000


ampersand review:

Efzeg are a four piece improviational group featuring sax, two guitars (which are interestingly presented in separate channels), electronics and turntables. The three pieces presented here were recorded live in 1999 and demonstrates the strengths and weaknesses of the format.

1 is thirty minutes long and shifts between periods of crackling electronics, scattered notes and feedback, nosiy horns and guitars, and saxophone squeals. Never really really noisey (unless you turn it up loud) it seems to progress randomly through its moods and paces, with an emphasis on a contemplative structure - there is usually quite a deal of space around the instruments and the notes. The shorter 2 (9 minutes) is more meditative, focussing on the electroinca with tones, squeaks and shimmering with some plucked guitar and restrained sax touches.

As with the others, 3 (23 minutes) opens quietly, electronic pulses and drones supporting some clicking before the sax starts blowing some whistles. Things build in a group way, then settles again for a period of clicks, scratching, and building buzzes. Again the ground shifts with the group dynamic, responding to each other, drifting casually and calmly, centring around thoughtful subtleties. A long silence before the unlisted 4, 3 slightly harsher minutes of the group.

The complementing instrumental composition makes this an intriguing disk, with interesting juxtapositions and passages. However, as an improvisation you have to enjoy the thrust of the moment rather than seeking an overall structure, and don't expect any melodies - the emphasis is either on subtle interplays or edgy atonality. I am not an 'improvisational expert' so can't advise whether this is a good example, but it has enough in it to maintain my interest, and I will keep playing it both as an arch-background noise or more loudly to capture the nuances of some components. I can't disagree with the statement that 'Ezfeg repudiates acclaim from anyone not repudiating the present austrian government' and offer that repudiation.

Ampersand Etcetera 2001:1

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debug review:

Es gibt eigentlich nur zwei Möglichkeiten, man kann diese entropische hochfrequente Aggressivität von efzeg hassen oder lieben, das kann ich nicht entscheiden, nicht was track 1 angeht. Mir dröhnt immerhin noch das Besenstilklopfen meiner geplagten Mitbewohner im Ohr, und das zum Glück mit niedriger Frequenz, aber trotz solch hübscher Kontrastbereicherung bitte Nachsicht. Jedenfalls, die Hochfrequenzen geben nicht auf, ein bißchen so wie "shitfun" (Whitehouse), nur eindringlicher.

Mit Track2 müssen sie sich zwar gegen eine Vereinnahmung durch eine ruhig pulsierende Rhythmik erwehren, und das führt fast zu einer Spannungsauflösung. Aber ihre Vollendung erreichen sie erst, wenn sie, selbstredend im gesetzten Rahmen, ihre eigene Auflösung mit 7-minütigem Ultraschall überschreiten.

Das ist dann auch der Punkt, an dem die eh vielschichtige Indexierung aussetzt und nicht einmal die harmonische decay-Phase von efzeg miterlebt, die doch essentiell zu einer solchen Frequenzbandgeste gehört.

Die Schrift sträubt sich nun mal gegen solche quasi-stationären Zustände, was das Anfangen ebenso wie das Enden betrifft, sie braucht keine Ungewißheit, wobei die hier doch sehr belebend wirkt.

xenya oooo, de bug

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Hier wird dynamische Klangforschung betrieben. Klaenge und Musik harren nicht ihrer Entdeckung, sondern werden im Moment des Spielens jedesmal neu befragt, geordnet und - vielleicht - neuerschaffen. Konzept der Spieler ist das bewusste Aufsuchen von Differenzen, eine gemeinsame Bearbeitung und die Reibung an der musikalischen Identitaet des jeweils anderen. Ergebnis ist eine Art musikalisch-fiktionale Vergesellschaftung, mit grosser Hingabe an moegliche Irritationen.
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groovesmagazine review:

Efzeg's a most intriguing Austrian quintet operating in the post-jazz improv vein long mined by AMM. The two guitarists, with their respective signal-altering devices separated into the right and left speakers, are the centerpieces here, generating everything from nearly inaudible scrapes to quivering drones to brief bouts of rowdy distortion. Through this maelstrom navigates a saxophonist with his bird-like calls, insect clickings and kettle whistles, while a turntable manipulator adds subtle cracklings and buzzings to the fray.

There is a nearly constant atmosphere of gripping tension and expectation, as if the listener is leaning into the speaker of a shortwave radio to decipher a message that remains garbled, even while the static around it persists in fascinating.

Groups such as Efzeg with their meticulous and exquisite spontaneous sound sculpture, which thankfully doesn't get too overbearing or monotonous though it does tread a few well-worn cliches, are why an electroacoustic aesthetic with nearly 40 years of history behind it still excites the ears today.


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jazzweekly review:

Remove any musical preconceptions from your mind when you see that efzeg is made up of two guitarists, a saxophonist and a turntablist. For the Vienna-based quartet's music might be dubbed post Homo sapiens. It creates in that sonic gray areas where electronic impulses meet miniscule tone flow.

More challenging than the most outlandish free jazz explosion, it's essentially a very frosty sound, seemingly as dependent on the properties of machines and new music theories as acoustic improvisations. The band even asserts that "efzeg does not guarantee that its music will be a source of 'intense pleasure' to listeners. That is not what we are here for ? and neither is the audience. For intensity can only be experienced by the subject him /herself: nothing can be gained without dedicating oneself to a possible source of irritation."

Pretty strong stuff. To be truthful, often during the almost 74 minutes of this disc the four musicians get their collective wish: the outcome is pretty irritating. Efzeg appears to have a Kraftwerkian fascination with machine made sounds to the extent that the few saxophone peeps or guitar strums which appears in this bleak aural landscape sound as out of place as a blooming flower on the desert floor. Moreover, the main point of demarcation between tracks seems merely to be length. Even when recognizable string sounds arrive, they appear to last no longer than a few seconds, while the reedist merely spews out little saliva drools of notes.

More prominent are the non-acoustic overtones. On the quiet side, these can range from what seems to be the flutter and buzz of electric motors, reed tongue kissing, sine wave approximations, chain clanks and nutcrackers being manipulated. Mixed among these are passages that depend on repeated buzzes and speaker static, feedback hums, plus sounds that resemble accelerating freight trains, ICBM rockers being launched and menacing, accelerating metal scrapes and variegated noise.

Close concentration does has its rewards, especially, when like someone peering at the stars with the Hubbell telescope, you can note when one motif appears and then reappears again later on.

Efzeg members have elaborated historical and philosophical considerations behind their sound. Dieb13, for instance, is really Dieter Kovacic, a self-described "conscientious copyright-objector" who has spent more than a decade turning cassette players, vinyl, CDs and hard drives into instruments. Saxophonist Boris Hauf studied at conservatories in London and Vienna and plays with other elctroacoustic bands.

As for the guitarists, German-born Martin Siewert has worked with other electric oriented musicians such as Wayne Horvitz, Werner Dafeldecker and Taku Sugimoto, and besides remixes and sound installations, concentrates on deconstructing the electric guitar and expanding its sonic possibilities.

Probably the best-known of the four, guitarist Burkhard Stangl, not only has an associated with minimalist jazz/new ,music ensembles Polwechsel and TonArt, but also worked with other sound seekers like John Butcher, Jim O'Rourke, Sugimoto and Dafeldecker.

That said Grain might offer more theory than practice. Fifty years on, electroacoustic experiments are nothing unusual, in jazz, New music or what seminal improvisers like AMM produce. But many other sessions seem to have more of a focus, blueprint and flow. Maybe the band will produce sessions better suited to ear concentration next time out. But despite efzeg's manifesto, on this one there's more irritation than intensity on show.

--Jazzweekly, Ken Waxman

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V nadaljevanju bo oder zasedel elektroakustièen kvartet po imenu efzeg, v katerem nastopajo: Martin Siewert (kitara in elektronika), Burkhard Stangl (kitara in elektronika), Boris Hauf (saksofoni) in Dieb13 (gramofoni). Glasba skupine je usmerjena k dolgim lokom, teksturam in delu z gostoto, zveni pa kakor let nad industrijsko pokrajino; raztele¹eno, raziskovalno in usmerjeno k strukturirani skupinski igri. Mo¾nosti in¹trumentov in medijsko arhiviranih zvoènih vzorcev na LPjih so v èasu njhovega koncerta potrpe¾ljivo premi¹ljeni, znova in znova presku¹ani in prespra¹evani. In ¹e pomembna opomba z njihovega albuma Grain: "efzeg se distancira od vseh, ki se ne distancirajo od trenutne avstrijske vlade." (Plo¹èa je iz¹la aprila 2000 pri Durian records)

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EFZEG - Grain (CD on Durian)
SWEETHEARTS IN A DRUGSTORE - Second Edition (CD on Ninth World Music)
Two cd's, one from Austria the other from Denmark. Two countries that, from a political point of view, have a special position in the Europe of today. The people of Denmark voted against the Euro by referendum. Austria has the very dubious honour of having a very rightwing party taking part in their present government. The very few words that can be found in the booklet and cover of the Efzeg-cd make clear that Efzeg distantiates themself clearly from this political situation: "Efzeg repudiates acclaim from anyone not repudiating the present austrian government". Durian Records is a very small label established by Werner Dafeldecker in 1995. Most releases cover music in the field of improvisation or the border s between improvised and composed music. Efzeg is no exception to this. Four musicians make up this group, namely, Boris Hauf (saxes), Martin Siewert (guitar, lapsteel, electronics), Burkhard Stangl (guitars, devices) and Dieb13 (turntables). The music is very much about sound, noise and texture. In 3 long tracks this quartet make their point. Good, but sometimes the lack of dynamic made my attention go to other things. The name 'Efzeg' fascinates me and contrasts pleasantly with the terrible names that are about to follow. If voting against against the euro indicates isolationistic tendencies in the Danish society, which I think is not the case, Sweethearts in a Drugstore is an example of the opposite. This sextet is made up of musicians from Germany, Great-Brittain and Denmark, a European group: Axel Dorner (trumpet), Peter Friis Nielsen (bass) , Johannes Bauer (trombone), Phil Durrant (Violin, electronics), P.O.Jorgens (Drums, percussion) and Pat Thomas (piano, keyboard, electronics). Their music differs completely from that of Efzeg. If Efzeg could be compared to AMM, the Sweethearts offer a more common variant of european improvised music. Interesting and good interplay. I guess this group is most of all one of the many faces of Peter Friis Nielsen and Peter Ole Jorgens. Nielsen is a veteran of the Copenhagen avant-garde scene. Jorgens, multi-instrumentalist, composed for film, theater, performance, etc. Both play for example also in Ghost-in-the-Machine and The Wild Mans Band, bands that have also cd's out on Ninth World Music (DM).

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wire review:

their scrapings and shimmers are coordinated for ensemble drama and their set impresses on the first listen. however, cds are meant for relistening, and second time round, the minimal harmonic climate feels restricting. on track two, the drone gradually amplifies, then ebbs away - a traditional device that verges on banality. the problem with music that gets by on novel sonorities is that once you´ve clocked them, there isn´t much thought or ambiguity to ponder

ben watson, the wire(199)

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