Fred Lonberg-Holm – cello, electronics
Adam Gołębiewski – drums

Obviously in the Room
Being Run Around Inside
Meeting Three Blind People

Bocian Records, 2016

It’s difficult to quantify what makes a good improvisation good – even the greatest improvisers can make recordings that don’t really get into the zone. Luckily, these two guys were on form when the record button was glowing red and we get a thoroughly engaging set of music that doesn’t stay in one place for long enough to get bored of the view..

This isn’t so much a dialogue as two artists fighting to create an abstract canvas, reaching around each other to get a brush stroke in that’ll work to make the whole thing greater…

To the casual observer, percussion instruments may seem limited in their expressive capabilities in the sense that there seems relatively little you can do to shape their sound once they’ve been set into vibration. But Adam Gołębiewski overcomes any limitations with his mastery of every possible sonic parameter and shows that there are no limits. He seems to have an inexhaustible supply of metallic squeaks, scrapes, rattles and clangs to delight the senses and urge greater feats of tonal grit from his partner in crime.

Fred Lonberg-Holm first entered my radar when I saw him with Ken Vandermark’s group and he stretched the boundaries of what his instrument is for. Since then I’ve lost track of his activities, so this is a welcome opportunity to reacquaint myself with his genius.

On this album he only hints at the possibility that he’s playing a cello and not doing something unspeakable and probably illegal with rosin and horsehair. He integrates his use of effects pedals so thoroughly into his playing that only occasionally did the gear nerd in me wonder what equipment he was using to make these sounds. This is indeed a difficult art, to stomp on an effect pedal and make it part of the general flow of the music rather than an ‘ooh look, I’ve got a new toy’ moment, but this album’s all about flow – the slippery fish of improv wriggling from surface to texture while the sonic children splash and shriek in the water of creativity – or something like that..

What I mean to say is this is a wonderful album – two great improvisers get down to work on the blinding task of shoving lightning into a bottle, ramming the cork in and throwing it out to sea. Sonic beachcombers, keep an eye out for this treasure.



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