Katharina Ernst | Extrametric
Ventil Records (LP/DL)
It’s hard to imagine this is the debut LP by Austrian artist Katharina Ernst as her skill, precision and fluidity as a percussionist is so notable. She’s worked with some of the most distinguished artists working from Christina Kubisch, Ken Vandermark and Martin Siewert who also mixed/mastered this record. Mind you, it did take portions of the last seven years to come up with some of the original rhythms found on Extrametric (Ventil Records), and it comes off as well produced and still real fresh. Here she has titled each of these seven tracks simply in succession as follows: x_01, x_02, etc.
From the start there’s a pulse, then a simple rhythm, slightly funky, marginally sinister. And the layering brings emphasis, not only to the drumsticks on glass but the whooshing synth layers and other tweaked electronics. The mysterious fog of drone, accentuated by the echo of cymbals are like nerve endings. These continue to ring out into the next track, where a traditional rock n’ roll drumkit emerges in its array of stylish runs. Still Ernst even tries her hand at changing up the feel of the sonic space with parts that are fairly pop/rock/techno familiar territory, but in her own fusion – though her approach on _04 has a certain tense, spare flow that is in its own jazzy wheelhouse. It’s like clockwork here, literally like a meter counting down. She delivers this robust pattern that clomps its way to the end.
Things get more abstract between _05 and _06, and I begin to hear the percussion like raindrops on a tin roof. As the arrangement slips into a loose shimmering minimalism I am hearing the breadth of Ernst’s ability to engage her set-up in a way that dials back the potential for fervor, here rather reserved and detached. Though the atmosphere is conceptually mediated in a space of introspection, of reverence. In this way it reflects more holistic places like a Japanese garden or by a glassy lake with the slightest wake. The next piece brings a delightful polymetric clickiness complimented by a brushed surface that has a spry tactility and an underbelly of precision ticking.
Throughout you get the sense of time, how it slips, how it stops/starts, how it carries on with or without the beat and/or its regularity. By the final piece we begin to hear a tribalism of sorts, a funky and ranging march-like tempo, interspliced with delicate tiny melodies and other non-obtrusive effects like the jangle of shells. The appreciation meter runs high for how these compositions are highlighted with such subtlety. Worth repeating!