Other Music, Dan Hirsch
The saying goes that, given typewriters and an infinite amount of time, a roomful of monkeys could write the complete works of Shakespeare. By that logic, if the same chimps were given a table-full of consumer electronics and a couple of hours, they would likely produce a decent album of electronic, improvised music. I feel safe in guaranteeing, however, that it wouldn't be anywhere as compelling and listenable as the new recording by this quartet of highly developed mammals known as poire_z. Over the course of its existence, the Swiss/French quartet has made a practice of inviting other musicians to sit in with them as unofficial fifth members. For this CD on Erstwhile, group member Günter Müller selected performances featuring contributions by turntable saboteur Christian Marclay and Japanese dynamos Otomo Yoshihide and Sachiko M. The first thing that struck me upon listening to "+" was the departure from the group's earlier, more analogue sound. Muller has increasingly augmented his amplified percussion setup with digital processing -- same for Norbert Moslang and Andy Guhl and their arsenal of cracked everyday-electronics. The quartet's fourth member, Erik M, has abandoned turntables altogether in favor of mini-disc players and fx. Of the three tracks here, the one with Sachiko M feels the most cohesive and focused. Her sine waves act as threads that unify the disparate scraps of noise produced by the other players. The subtlety of her approach has a noticeable effect on the rest of the group who take a more restrained approach in her presence. The tracks with Yoshihide and Marclay are busier affairs, full of transmissions from the aether and dislocated voices from the vinyl graveyard. poire_z's aesthetic doesn't fall in line with the typical call and response ethos of free-improv that often builds from silence to chaos and back. Instead, the electro-acousticians of pz work with laminal procedures -- they juxtapose textures, alternate currents, and combine signals into dense meshworks. Huddled over their tables of equipment, Muller, Moslang, Guhl and M often look like scientists, but the fruits of their labor reflect the twisted sense of humor and sly word play of lexicon artists.
All Music Guide, Brian Olewnick
The four musicians who makes up poire_z's normal line-up are quite capable of constructing a dense, throbbing wall of sound on their own. +, as the title of the disc implies, finds them in collaboration with three other sound artists, one per track. On bottle_bow (all song titles apparently derived from arbitrary headings on dictionary pages), the amazing Otomo Yoshihide joins the crew for an extended foray that begins almost industrially before settling into an eerie, barren calmness, a world of atmospheric crackles where chance radio broadcasts of Casey Kasem are as likely to drift across the listening spectrum as anything else. An ominous pulse eventually signals a return to harsher climes and the group rides out the remainder of the improv in impressive form, no one member dominating the sound. In fact, one of the many salient aspects of this recording is the control the musicians have over their potentially overpowering arsenal. Each adjusts himself to the musical needs of the moment, not to showboating. Sachiko M, she of the pristine sine waves, leads the quartet into a soft, gurgling realm, illuminated by the thin, brilliant rays she extracts from an empty sampler. Subtle loops begin to phase in and out, 'dirty' rasps and crashes appear occasionally, all interweaving with the sine drones and other hums. Itís an extraordinarily complex fabric that hugely repays repeated listening. For the final piece, veteran turntablist Christian Marclay joins in adding, at times, some more 'traditional' spinning but more often blending in seamlessly with the band. The improvisation is full of pulsations at varying angles to each other, overlaid by yet another rich tapestry of abstract sound. poire_z are masters of this form of free improvisation and + finds them near the top of their game. It's a superb, exciting recording.
Incursion Music Review, Richard di Santo
Poire_z is the quartet of Günter Müller, eRiKm and Voice Crack (Norbert Möslang and Andy Guhl). The "+" in the title likely refers to the group's fifth member, who changes with each live performance. This release features three performances, and each one features a different fifth member: Otomo Yoshihide, Sachiko M and Christian Marclay respectively. A few words about the players, who probably need no introduction in these pages: Günter Müller is a prolific percussionist and electronics improviser who has also founded the For 4 Ears label; Swiss duo Voice Crack have been performing on "cracked everyday electronics" since the early eighties, and have been experimenting with sound for the past 30 years; eRiKm is probably best known for his intense turntable experimentalism, but here he focuses on using the minidisc and sampler. In the first piece (which is also the longest with a run time of 25 minutes), Otomo Yoshihide accompanies the quartet on turntables and electronics. This piece is a stunning testament to the entire group's ability to create intense, shifting sound atmospheres using unconventional techniques and instrumentation. The second track features a performance by Sachiko M on sinewaves, and in keeping with the minimal aesthetic present in most, if not all of her work, the piece is composed of delicate tones, crackles and light bubbling sounds, resting and intermingling with characteristic weightlessness, only occasionally being interrupted by glimpses of harsher textures. The third and final piece features Christian Marclay on turntables. In the opening minutes, the mood is dark and the sounds more restless and scurrying, as if seeking shelter from a coming storm. Calm sets in briefly, where delicate electronic elements and subtle hisses lightly touch on the silence, while other tones, rough textures, waves of sound come onto the scene, until the storm finally hits with a flurry of sounds, sweeps and sonic textures. Here as ever, poire_z present another engaging and challenging release. Excellent work.