Sophisticates squeeze box set ups, these sessions synthesize the contributions of accordion payers in either acoustic or electric improvisations. Swiss accordion player Jonas Kocher who has spent years probing the complex extensions available from tremolo timbres with such associates as Christoph Kurzmann and Michel Doneda moves another pace outside on Abstract Musette, partnered with Basel native Joke Lanz. For unlike even the electro-acoustic assemblages in which Kocher has been involved in the past, Lanz, who has worked in a similar manner with everyone from Peter Kowald to Audrey Chen sources his timbres by manipulating vinyl on turntables. Anything but electric, except in performance though, AREA SISMICA is another recorded chapter in the decades-long affiliation between French accordionist Pascal Contet, who also composes soundtracks and Paris bassist Joëlle Léandre, who has played with nearly everyone in
Working through a collection of tracks which are mostly in the less-than-one-minute or slightly-over-two-minute range, the Musette face-off usually involved tremolo patterning from Kocher, frequently from the lowest pitches of the scale and the turntable’s contrapuntal comments. Depending on the circumstances electronic static, drones or squeals predominate or in other cases snatches of pre-recorded male or female voices, cut off, repeated or imploded are heard. Without clear comprehension that vocal mumbling becomes strictly onomatopoeia, adding new tinctures to Lanz’s sonic output, which otherwise defines its territory with vinyl scratches and motor rumbles. Squeeze box glissandi is audible on “Tokkata”, “El Biscotto” and “Les Flonflons”. But almost as soon as musette-like squeals are recognizable they’re deconstructed into basso rumbles and matched with vinyl synthesis and vocal burps before being subsumed by reflective turntable jitters.
With other tracks tersely emphasizing percussion-like pulsations and whistling distortions as the tone arm needle presses against the platter without LP intervention, or field-recorded voices sped up from 331/3 to 78 rpm; “Rêve De Clarinette” stands out for its sense of development. As extended whistles move past static crackles to emphasize bellows-shaded lowing and shrill signs, a fluid exposition is delineated with stop-time repetition confirming the theme. Then the subsequent “Swing Valse”, while still not swinging, it becomes a coda to the preceding track, with strained and juddering accordion tones moving to a conclusive end. By this point the last tracks, “Premier Rendez-vous” and “Tango Lalandais”, move the narrative in double counterpoint. On the first, squeeze box glissandi, peeps and beeps take on horn or percussion inferences as they ambulate beside turntable deconstruction. The final “Tango Lalandais” is a showcase of Lanz’s instrument shading, fluttering and jittering as paced accordion tones provide a solid undertow that becomes an exercise in off-kilter march time.