Spill is a Berlin duo made up of Magda Mayas (piano) and Tony Buck (percussion) and here are their latest full-length improvisations, Stereo. On this record they lay out two twenty minute plus tracks, Magnetic Island and Sway – one per side. They start with an abstract, sporadic arrangement where all is quite pared down. Some is structured beforehand, they also utilize pre-recorded elements intended for a live setting, presented in layers for output through multiple speakers. You can imagine a space where the sound is coming at you from multiple angles, almost sneaking up on you. The atmosphere is drenched in jitters, bass lows, and minimal intriguing effects. The two complement each others’ quirks.
Together they (de)construct a very contemporary classical sound that draws from the air of neorealist cinema with sudden stops and starts, and subsequently new avenues to follow. It’s not done via editing, rather through an adept sense of knowing each others’ contrivances. At times more lulling, sometimes suspenseful and suddenly silent. There are many twists, and most are low-rising in terms of timbre embedded within even greater subtleties. Utilizing bells and wooden objects, along with reverberating cymbals, also brings an uncharted sonic jazz feel here, along the lines of, say, Andrew Cyrille and other experimenters to this acoustic table of elements. Without being noisy these two most certainly offer up the essence of disquiet. A peaceful yet obtuse sound with lots of endurance. By the end it’s a late night ping pong match where all the lustre starts to slowly drain.
Then comes Sway. At first you are seated in the dead center of a dark room, likely somewhat large, and you are surrounded by faint static noise, and a deep n’ low boom as scant keys start to emerge. A broken melody can be made from these parts and pieces if you pay attention through the gaps and silences. You hear the two in sync more intensely here than on the flipside, and it’s a delicate connection based on a deeper listening. They are at the intersection between not wasting a second, and having all the time in the world to deliver a work of defiant minimalism. An irresistible fusion that delights the ear with tones and rhythm, doing so with reserved interventions and lots of anticipation.
A singular chime has so much power to invoke memories of windy days, of seasons, or of a certain place. They stir these momentary glints of musical devices from end to end as if they are slowly turning and dusting off a sparkling geodesic find they just dug from deep in the earthen crust. The dazzle and dust are just an entry point to this otherwise forlorn work with endless emotive turns. If you are looking through rose-colored glasses this would likely come off as quite romantic, and if you are a hardliner you may only experience the craggy physicality — but if you are able to balance the two, this will harness your senses.