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Fennesz Daniell Buck
Knoxville Nix Lowrey , September 6th, 2010 12:07

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Beginning with a slow squeak, like a sign blowing back and forth in the wind, Knoxville's opening track 'Unberwindbare' conjures a quiet town, a deserted night, a contemplative landscape. As the slow journey continues the wind gathers, rises, percussion clatters as though blown down the street past the listener, to finally rest somewhere out of gaze. The formidable trio of expera-notables Christian Fennesz, Tony Buck (from legendary Australian impro outfit The Necks) and abstract guitarist David Daniels have created these improvised sonic pieces to be as visual as they are auditory: 'Unberwindbare' develops into an intricate, moebius-like narrative that connects the entire work.

Knoxville documents a live performance by this nascent Trio, recorded on February 7th, 2009, at the Big Ears Festival in the Tennessee city from which it takes its name. Barely rehearsed and only conceptually discussed in advance, the level of cohesion, of unified vision, of developed direction is really pretty amazing. The success of the endeavour is a testament to the breadth of prior experience and brilliance of the performers involved. At no point does one instrument seem to dominate or overshadow. Instead, this is a democratic alliance of ebb and swell, of call and return, of space and density.

The album presents what are ostensibly 'selected highlights' of a continuous 1.5 hour improvisation. Fennesz's interstitial electronic washes are delicately laid amongst the skitterish restive bursts of Buck's percussion – he uses metallic collisions as fragments contributing to a whole rather than as defining or structural elements: breadcrumbs randomly scattered rather than the road leading into the forest. Guitar parts by Daniels and Fennesz provide the most strident and melodic of elements, at times insinuating a genuine ariose phrase, at others dissolving into punctuative dissonance.

At its zenith points, this work is sublime in its density, a perfect ossification of artists working in a material space that itself provides further reverberation and tonal qualities – nuances which would no doubt have made the evening of February 7th, 2009 an inspiring one. Yet on record, this inevitably creates a frustrating listening experience - a beautiful tease to taunt those who were not there. Nevertheless, this merely leaves this reviewer hungry for more than this vicarious experience, and hoping for further collaboration.

Millicent Pew
Sep 17, 2010 3:24am

There were 100 bands that did this stuff in the downtown NY scene of the early 80's. Nothing new to me here. I do like the album though, but it's too derivative of a scene I knew all too well.

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