Sometimes, a cautious spurt of respectful jousting ends in a professional compromise that allows those involved to keep their hard-won reputations in tact. A chunking groove is often the result. Sometimes, egos take over and individual members tussle with each other for dominance or veer off in idiosyncratic flights of fancy, leaving the others to scale a slippery rock face. On other occasions, the artists just seem to instantly click and revel in the opportunity to share and exchange ideas with people they are not accustomed to working with.
Last Friday, during a well attended concert at Club Re, Regenorchester XII, the latest incarnation of Austrian trumpeter, Franz Hautzinger’s, Regenorchester, thankfully empathized with each other, despite the varying paths the musicians have taken up to this point. In fact, they combined so well at times that it was difficult to work out who was contributing what to the overall sound.
Hautzinger started off as a jazzman, but is now much better known for exploring the technical possibilities of his chosen instrument. Christian Fennesz, on laptop and guitar, is a veteran of the Intelligent Dance Music (IDM) scene, a genre that is best known for building layers of sound using heavily manipulated samples from found objects and other unexpected sources. Australian percussionist, Tony Buck, is best known as founding member of The Necks, a piano trio heavily influenced by minimalist composers, like Philip Glass. The bassist on the night was Dutchman, Luc Ex, who is most closely associated with heavily politicized punk rock band, The Ex, who have collaborated with Sonic Youth, among others.
It is true that periods of feverish experimentalism sometimes dissolved into safe compromises. The second number, for example, after a dramatic interlude of scraping and scurrying, fell into a fat groove, vaguely suggestive of The Temptation’s “Papa was a Rolling Stone.” But as the concert progressed, the band became increasingly adventurous and shaking off the obvious Krautrock influence, began to find their own voice. There were also rather formulaic moments. Brittle walls of sound gradually increased in intensity, and the stark, tribal rhythms generated by Buck sometimes had a disappointing inevitability about them. But the aforementioned walls of sound and tribal beats were so well executed that certain members of the crowd felt the need to express their excitement physically. Some of those at the front participated in a frenzied free-for-all slam dance, while those of a more delicate disposition gently swayed with their eyes closed at the back, lost to the world.
Old stage habits die hard and visually the band were a treat. Fennesz glumly tweaked knobs with a face of stone, while Luc Ex squirmed around at the back in a parody of ecstasy and Hautzinger nonchalantly rested on the speaker system, his trumpet dangling at his side. The overall impression was of old pros having fun while being themselves, a rare thing indeed in an industry dominated by brittle temperaments and fragile egos.