14 May 2011

Alexander Schubert - plays sinebag (Ahornfelder, 2011)

Alexander Schubert is a German musician, born in Bremen, with a background of computer science and biology. Inside his music there is a large part given to ideas of abstraction, perception and experimentation. 

On this record, he mixes acoustic and electronic sources, then process them, with both definite ideas and directions, and at times lets open the hazardous door of free improvisation.

"Plays Sinebag" is his first release under his own name, besides he has got two albums under the Sinebag name, plays in different ensembles and contributes to different experimental projects. 

Sinebag is his more sensitive, delicate and melodic expression, with similarities to the Yuichiro Fujimoto discography, with a large use of field recordings. On the other side his other projects seem more experimental and harsher.

"Plays Sinebag" is a trial at embracing both sides in a single movement or more precisely at finding a way to express on record his more extravert side and his research as an experimental and curious reflexive musician.

It results into a very fragmentary album, seven tracks from less than one minute to almost fifteen, where you drift from very sensitive and appeasing instants towards icy, deconstructed and free jazz passages. I've got the impression of following a breadcrumb trail in an area I'm not totally familiar with, though most of these sounds are relatively usual.

It's a record which can be confusing with unexpected dead ends and you are never sure of the stability of the environment you are exploring. 

If his Sinebag albums were solo productions, here at times he is playing with invited musicians (on clarinet, drums, percussion, piano, saxophone, electric guitar and double bass) which gives more changes and often a more formal dimension then cut into pieces by subsequent digital processing and a construction / deconstruction compositional pattern. 

It is less quiet and ear-friendly than previous Sinebag albums but at times he elaborates very nice atmospheres, like the weightlessness of  "Semaphores" which floats deliciously in a kind of Dean Roberts / Gastr Del Sol similar dimension.

After this nice introduction, "A few Plateaus" falls into experimentalism and confusion, reminding me almost of the weirdest parts of Joan of Arc when complexity and improvisation turn into something both austere, emotionally bloodless and technically demonstrative.

For short tracks between half and two minutes follow, exploring different directions but always unclear about their goals and reasons of existence. They are not dissimilar from earlier Sinebag tracks but they miss the intimacy of his previous albums, so it is difficult to feel concerned. 

"Wake- up, Fly Ray" is quite interesting during the eight first minutes, full of restraint, tension and complexity and once again i'm just tempted to think of bands like Autistic Daughters or Gastr Del Sol. Even if Alexander never crosses the limit of sounding like a band, even if he is not playing alone, he is clearly inventing something but just when we reach the apex of emotion, it turns into something noisy and cacophonous for the next seven minutes. 

"Plays Sinebag" is something like a conceptual research and the results show at different places very interesting perspectives. Alexander Schubert could embrace the strong moments of this album and turn these into something really arresting if he decides for his next album to embrace a personal emotional development as an Ariadne's thread. 

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