Posted at 19:03h
Sven Åke Johansson, Michael Renkel : Kalte Welle 102, 13 Fragmente, Kning Disc (Sweden)
Brian Morton, The Wire
Drummer Sven Åke Johansson has written elsewhere about the aesthetics of renouncement, about leaving out rather than putting in. This is a man who – for all the theatricality of some of his performances – favours a mechanistic approach as stripped of personality as a dismantled engine; the guy once conducted an ensemble of 12 vintage tractors.
Though he drummed on Peter Brötzmann’s For Adolphe Sax in 1967 – a Swede he moved to Berlin the following year and helped make Machine Gun too – he he favours the light, evanescent touch audible on this remarkable duo set.
Renkel is some kind of young genius, too, a guitarist who can be described as ‘post-Bailey’
only in the most notionally chronological way.
Like Johansson he’s essentially a composer who improvises, and he’s acutely responsive to context, playing differently with Johansson than he does in duo with another percussionist, Burkhard Beins. If he resembles Bailey at all, it’s the Bailey who toys with melody.
Renkel is more about space and aural geometry than he is with line and texture.
Take ‘Der leere Saal’, a slowed down rattlesnake blues so static it could be hibernating. The following ‘Im Feld’ is all high harminics and out of reach scratch, reflecting Renkel’s interest in electronica (though that’s not what’s afoot here) and Johansson’s brilliance with his cymbals. 13 ‘fragments’ doesn’t do the music entire justice, since many of these are gracefully and satisfying achieved.
Others do, admittedly, hang in the air, but as intimations of something larger than discarded
For a man who has been recording for 40 years, Johansson’s discography is disconcertingly scant. He’s also an artist and poet, so his endeavour has its unheard outlets, but it’s time he was more widely recognised as one of the great European percussionits.