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Klang. Farbe. Melodie.
Troy Collins

A series of short collective improvisations from an international collective based in the Bay Area, Klang. Farbe. Melodie. is a sort of free improv summit meeting. All four musicians contribute equally to the group’s explorations, lending it a balanced and democratic sound. Named after Schoenberg’s 12-tone musical term klangfarbemelodie, which translates to sound/color/ melody, the group spans the globe in search of musical colors and textures to inhabit this series of collective improvisations.

Masaoka, playing the 21-stringed koto, lends an Asiatic timbre to the proceedings, occasionally buttressed by German born Vinkeloe’s flute work. Accompanied by sporadic bass interjections from Cremaschi and subtle percussion work from Robair, these pieces take on a more Eastern hue. Robair’s percussive workouts periodically break into a more aggressive mode, in which the ensemble follows in turn, with Vinkeloe’s alto fluttering furiously to pull the music forward. Take for example the opening cut “An Intimate Detail” which flies out of the gate, all trilling alto with crashing percussion, plucked koto and random bass plucking. This piece, like most on the album, is barely pop song length, under 3 minutes, but is compact enough in execution and delivery of ideas that it doesn’t feel constrained by its time limit.

Harp-like double picking on the koto backs multiphonic blasts from Vinkloe’s sputtering alto while Robair crashes around episodically in the background and Cremashi’s bass strums mightily on “Poggioli,” dedicated to the NPR correspondent, Sylvia Poggioli. Alternately “Pudenda Kyrie” is an Eastern sounding meditation on space and sound with the entire ensemble subjugating their more outré expressions in search of a more introspective sound. Delicate call and response is the primary focus of this excursion. The album veers back and forth between these extremes, with the artists acquitting themselves admirably to the overall group dynamic.

A work of delicate polyphonic spaciousness combined with moments of atonal abandon, Klange. Farbe. Melodie. is a document of one of but many possible sound combinations created by a quartet of improvisers which quite literally has all the sounds of the world at its fingertips.

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