Ear Duration by Tonus


Tonus | Ear Duration
A New Wave of Jazz (CD/DL)

The evolving make up of Dirk Serries’ Tonus thickens with Ear Duration. Here the quintet take apart and rearrange three stripped down sets (2, 3 and 1 respectively). They tug, nudge and tweak their strings, keys and other noise makers with exhilarating small action. It’s a deconstructed orchestra for prepared improvisation. The players:

Graham Dunning: snaredrum, objects
Dirk Serries: accordeon, acoustic guitar
Benedict Taylor: viola
Martina Verhoeven: piano
Colin Webster: flute, alto sax

Given the happenstance, what strikes me are the air instruments of Webster at first. It seems to command the least and therefore become the lil’ floating curvatures that steal my ear. It’s a rag-tag sound that sounds like incidental field recordings from backstage at a circus between live sets, or the sound of an airplane underbelly carrying a Cesna filled will traveling musicians, and the security camera captured a stack of instruments pried loose at 40K feet – of course this all dances with time in a fictitious and animated way.

0014933893_10It’s not jazz, it’s not classical, instead it’s a conversation between players speaking in the voice of their chosen instruments, and they are verbose, to say the least. This is not straight out chaotic noise, au contraire, but there’s plenty of agitation and there is pause. And while the most minute sounds register in the vanta black void at times, these rests offer a contained sense in the power of being off script. Dunning’s “objects”, for instance, are the fine lines that bring the entire myriad of Set 3 together. The ties that bind (while all else separates fluidly, rapidly, incongruously). A stunning piece.

Wherever these guys go the listener will find the impulse of attraction/detraction, there’s something of a plot behind Set 1, the lengthiest piece at over thirty-five minutes. If this wasn’t made for dance choreography it is heartily suggested that adaption might tell the other side of the story. Here you will find an assertive melancholy running through it, likely in the various vignettes they play together, but most vividly between Verhoeven’s heartfelt playing and the demeanor of Taylor’s drawn out viola. Creaking in deep aching broken harmony until the very end.

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