2022, CD ezz-thetics Hat Hut Records 1038 // 9 tracks // 40:29
Musicians Christoph Gallio soprano & C-merlody // Markus Eichenberger clarinet // Production notes All compositions by Christoph Gallio & Markus Eichenberger (except track 8 by Christoph Gallio) // Recorded at PERCASO studio in Baden by Christoph Gallio, 2020 June 19 & 20 // Edited & mixed by EICHENBERGER / GALLIO // Mastered by Michael Brändli at Hard Studios in Winterthur // Liner Notes by Art Lange // Produced by EICHENBERGER / GALLIO & Werner X. Uehlinger, Bernhard "Benne" Vischer, Christian C. Dalucas // Graphic design by fuhrer vienna // Cover photo by Christoph Gallio

Samples

NEW WAYS New Ways
GIFT OF THE ARTIST Gift of the Artist
HOW TO SLEEP BETTER HOW TO SLEEEP BETTER
UPDATE Update
HOW DOES MY CAT THINK How does my cat think

Cover Notes

Liner Notes by Art Lange

Let’s begin with a simple equation: 1 + 1 = 1.

In creating this distinctive program of music and titling it Unison Polyphony, the multifaceted Swiss reedmen Markus Eichenberger and Christoph Gallio have implied a seemingly contradictory nature at the heart of their collaboration – two instrumental voices that relate to each other, illogically, by following a shared path (unison) and different paths (polyphony) at the same time. But if we are willing to accept the premise of our initial equation, where the consequence of their pairing is a single, self-contained, indivisible entity, we may decide (as the 19th century British historian/philosopher Thomas Carlyle imagined, in another context) that in so doing they have “penetrated into the inmost heart of a thing, detected the inmost mystery of it, namely, the melody that lies hidden in it; the inward harmony of coher- ence which is its soul, whereby it exists, and has a right to be, here in the world.”
The singular “thing” that Eichenberger and Gallio have constructed through their separate, spontaneous actions is the conceptually unified “harmony of coherence” which reveals its identity through pure melody. We typically tend to think of duos as either supportive – that is, one voice offering a foundation upon which the other voice may elaborate – or conversational – where the complementary or contrapuntal voices interact in a chosen field of conver- gence, while maintaining their individuality. But, to my mind, this duo could be regarded as cohabitational while neither generally supportive nor conversational, that is, agreeing to exist in a common space, contributing ideas that fit together without apparent compositional development or specific points of reference. Often, their participation seems to avoid the condi- tioned impulse of corresponding reaction. The melody that results, in those moments, is an unexpected, unpredictable complication of parts, no longer two distinct voices, but one integrated event. One plus one now equals one.
Melody is a direction, a flow of details, sound in motion towards a perceived endpoint, an elongation of experienced time into space. Its movement creates shape, contour, out- line. Melody may describe, or dictate, and thus determine or suggest a point of view, as metaphor – observable in Shakespeare or Schoenberg. Or it may qualify as its own form and function. Consider this isolated line from Gertrude Stein’s piece In (1913): “Leak in a leak in earn in urn eucalyptus new rights new rights pole light lime.” Meaning, and/or motivation, becomes secondary to the visual and melodic experience. In some of her writings, Stein has been categorized as a “cubist” author, as the repeated and recontextualized words may suggest an abstracted illusion of multiple perspectives. Here, however, her words become an object, the thing itself, the mystery contained in the music. Similarly, albeit in their rather more extreme manner, Eichenberger and Gallio act to agitate sound into existence as the thing itself, outside of referential or abstracted patterns, melody improvised and con- structed in its own concreteness.
Though speaking about visual constructs, the Swiss artist/designer/theoretician Max Bill characterized the distinction between con- creteness and abstraction in 1947 when he wrote, “To concretize means ’to transform into an object’ something that was not previously visible or palpable. To make abstract ideas, relationships and thoughts visible: that is concretization, objectifica- tion. The goal of concretization is to pre- sent abstract thoughts in reality in a way that is perceptible to the senses.”
As if confronting the challenge to “make abstract ideas, relationships and thoughts percepti- ble” in an improvisational context, Eichen- berger and Gallio insinuate the shape and texture of sound as object through acute instrumental means – adjustments of pitch, manipulations of timbre, blending of Similarly, albeit in their rather more extreme manner, Eichenberger and Gallio act to agitate sound into existence as the thing itself, outside of referential or abstracted patterns, melody improvised and con- structed in its own concreteness. Though speaking about visual constructs, the Swiss artist/designer/theoretician Max Bill characterized the distinction between con- creteness and abstraction in 1947 when he wrote, “To concretize means ’to trans- tones, each adding color to the compound- ed sense of line – and phrasing that emphasizes the angle, arc, and edge of their measure. Lyrical content is estab- lished as the acceptance of accident and intuition. Their synthesis of melody as object defines its own reality... “whereby it exists, and has a right to be, here in the world.” Art Lange, Chicago, October 2021

Reviews

ORYNX-IMPROV'ANDSOUNDS / JEAN-MICHEL SCHOUWBURG

Ce n’est pas la première fois que le clarinettiste suisse Markus Eichenberger enregistre pour ezz thetics / hatology. Son précédent album Suspended (2018) le réunissait avec le contrebassiste Daniel Studer, membre influent du duo de contrebasses Studer – Frey et du String Trio avec Harald Kimmig & Alfred Zimmerlin deux parmi mes groupes (suisses) préférés aux côtés du tandem Urs Leimgruber et Jacques Demierre, ou des individualités comme Charlotte Hug et Florian Stoffner. Le voici avec un autre Suisse impliqué depuis des décennies dans cette scène improvisée / free jazz helvétique : le saxophoniste Christoph Gallio (DAY & TAXI), ici au soprano et au C-melody sax pour le dernier morceau.

Unison et Polyphony : voilà un bien curieux antagonisme. En variant légèrement la hauteur, la dynamique et le timbre de leurs notes à l’unisson, les deux souffleurs instaure une curieuse polyphonie minimaliste. À l’écoute, on dira qu’il s’agit d’une démarche conceptuelle, mais les titres des 10 morceaux révèlent leur état d’esprit empreint d’une forme de détachement descriptif : New Ways, When the Day is Short, When the Day is Long, How To Sleep Better, How Does My Cat Think, Strange Cave System, Gift of The Artists, Update, A Walkable Swamp, The Balance of a Clay Figure, quasi tous aussi non-sensiques. Une musique improbable défile, poseuse de questions, ignorante des réponses, traitant le son en dégradé avec de longues notes tenues parsemées de silence, notes qu’ils décalent minutieusement par un heureux hasard avec de timides pas de côté, entretenant un son diaphane et des légers et curieux hoquets parsemés de fragments de phrase. Plusieurs des 10 morceaux s’interrompent par surprise et s’immobilisent au bord du silence. Travail sur la dynamique. Le dialogue s’imbrique petit à petit au hasard d’un des morceaux et disparaît pour laisser place à cet Unison, suave idée fixe du projet. Une narration intuitive à propos de tout et de rien qui change nos habitudes et suggère une Polyphonie imaginaire dont quelques éléments s’invitent subrepticement dans le décor. La virtuosité si chère aux poids lourds du saxophone et de la clarinette est évacuée au profit d’une leçon de chose somme toute poétique et improbable.

ALL ABOUT JAZZ, JOHN EYLES

Unison Polyphony features two renowned Swiss players, Markus Eichenberger on clarinet and Christoph Gallio on saxophones. Considering that both were born in 1957 and first played together in the '80s, it is somewhat surprising that this is their first recording together. However, given the instruments they play, it is less surprising as duos of reed instruments are scarce. Yes, The International Nothing duo of Kai Fagaschinski and Michael Thieke on clarinets springs to mind as does the bass clarinet pairing of Katie Porter and Lucio Capece. While saxophones and clarinets frequently play together in larger ensembles, Eichenberger and Gallio seem to be breaking new ground here...

Studio-recorded in Baden, Switzerland, over two June days in 2020, the album comprises ten tracks with a total running time of forty-one minutes, the shortest track lasting thirty-five seconds, the longest eight-and-a-half minutes. All are duos with the sole exception of the seventy-eight second "Update" on which Gallio plays alone. As the sleeve notes point out, this is neither a supportive duo, in which one player backs another, nor a conversational duo, where the players call and respond, reacting to one another. Instead, the two both play throughout, with occasional gaps, clearly aware of one another's playing without copying it or getting in one another's way. Much of the time they play improvised melodic phrases which are easy on the ear and make pleasurable listening.

Consequently, the album title Unison Polyphony is something of an oxymoron as its two words rather contradict each other. Yes, there is polyphony as the two independent melodic lines complement one another. However, the two lines are never close enough to each other to be described as in "unison." The sleeve notes try to get around this by arguing that 1+1=1, meaning that the two instrumental lines combine into one. With one being saxophone and the other clarinet, that does not really hold water. Putting such pedantry aside, and judging the album on its music rather than its title, Unison Polyphony is an undoubted success, to the extent that we must hope this twosome records again soon.

 

BAD ALCHEMY, RIGOBERT DITTMANN

Warum nicht, schließlich sind beide sogar vom gleichen Jahrgang 1957, und Eichenberger als Atemkettensprenger, Tuttriebtäter und Werckmeister teilt mit Gallio sowohl dessen in cooler und eleganter Sophistication mit Day & Taxi ausgestaltetes Formbewusstsein als auch den ebenso ausgeprägten Freisinn. Wie sie da uni- und poly- als Insichwiderspruch in Wohlgefallen auflösen, brachte Art Lange in seiner Linernotelaudatio dazu, ihnen Max Bills Konkretisierung des Abstrakten, Gertrude Steins worthafte Objektivierung von Mysteriösem jenseits von Meaning und Motivation und Thomas Carlyles Vordringen zur Melodie als Seele und inmost heart of things zuzuschreiben. Und summa summarum die Formel 1 + 1 = 1 als ihr spezieller Trick, Ideen hörbar zu machen, ja selbst die Gedanken einer Katze ('How Does My Cat Think'). Im Einklang von Klarinette und Sopranosaxofon, tutend, in Wellen, in gesummten Kürzeln, mit offenen und öfters doch verstopften Rohren. Mühsal und Gesang, Eulen- und Kinderliedgesang, gedämpfter, sonorer und quäkender Gesang, das liegt da ganz eng beieinander. In geteiltem Atem, geteilter Stimmung, so sehr, dass das Unisono keiner Absprache bedarf. Brüderlich verzahnt erklingen auch die hellen, quiekenden und schrillen Spitzen und Kräusel. Die unheimlichen Uuus von 'Strange Cave System' durchlaufen sie, auch wenn ihnen manchmal die Spucke wegzubleiben droht, Hand in Hand, geleitet von Melodieresten und Erinnerungsspuren. Dem Labyrinth entronnen quäken sie hellauf, singen sie Du da, da Du... Gallio fiept und krächzt Fitzel zu Eichenbergers zagem Piepen und Tuten, ah, sie überqueren 'A Walkable Swamp' und da geht ihnen die Muffe. Doch zuletzt finden die beiden ihr Gleichgewicht wieder mit zwischen dissonant und unison balancierenden Tönen. Und was war nochmal daran abstrakt?

BERT NOGLIK

Großartig! Ganz wie Ornette Coleman sagte - Verschiedenes und trotzdem im Unisono. Klangforschung und vor allem Gestalt.

JAZZ N'MORE, THOMAS MEYER

Die Begriffe meinen eigentlich Gegensätzliches: Das Unisono ist das im Einklang gleichlaufende Spiel zweier Stimmen, die Polyphonie hingegen das kunstvolle mehrstimmige Gegen- und Miteinander. Aber gewiss kann man das auch dialektisch behandeln und dann entsteht daraus eine musikalische Gratwanderung: eine Linie, die sich ständig auffächert – mit Absturzgefahr. In der komponierten Musik, etwa bei Pascal Dusapin, Walter Feldmann, Kate Soper oder Eric Wubbels, finden sich spannende Versuche, damit umzugehen. Hier nun wird es improvisiert: Der Klarinettist Markus Eichenberger und der Saxophonist Christoph Gallio suchen die gemeinsame Linie, finden sich manchmal sogar auf einer bekannten Melodie und verlassen sie wieder. Mal subtil, mal hartnäckig oder querständig umspielen sie das Gemeinsame ständig aufs Neue, mikrotonal, klangfarblich, phrasierend, rhythmisch, harmonisch – da gibt es unzählige Möglichkeiten! Das, den beiden zuhörend, zu erkunden, ist eine fruchtbare und vielfältige Erfahrung. Und sie führt denn gelegentlich auch ins Unvorherhörbare – fernab von meditativer Bodennähe, ständig auf dem Seil.

FB, Brian Olewnick

A lovely recording, 'Unison Polyphony' from Markus Eichenberger (clarinet) and Christoph Gallio (soprano & C-melody saxophones.) Think of a neighborhood about halfway between The International Nothing and a lost, highly restrained Braxton/Mitchell outing from the 70s--really enjoyable.