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harald kimmig | im freien

imfreien.jpgHarald Kimmig

Im Freien

Hybrid CD15

Harald Kimmig (violin)

Kimmig sounds like nobody else here: an essentially minimal player, favouring motorik, highly repetitive music which is encouraged to run at an extraordinary tempo. Some of it is certainly improvised, though Kimmig refers to the pieces as “compositions”, and so perhaps they are. They can certainly reach some pretty excitable peaks of frenzied sawing as the tempo accelerates, which it often does.

The music has a clear tonal root, although on some pieces it drifts a long way from conventional harmony and on a few the playing of notes is abandoned entirely in favour of noise-derived textures. Some of these are quite unpleasant — Kimmig has a liking for a heavily-rosined sound anyway, and “Holz auf Holz” revels in the fingernails-on-blackboard sound which is playing is always threatening but usually avoids. Generally, however, a note-spinning approach predominates in which a single bar in isolation means very little, but the build-up of motivic units creates an effective development; extended timbres are integrated into this structure with considerable success, although the teeth-on-edge quality is never far away and there is a danger that some of these pieces will simply grate on the ears.


Photo: Noriaka Ikeda

Over half of the pieces here are recorded outside (hence, I think, the title), using environmental sounds such as running water for accompaniment. Sometimes this works fine, as in the later pieces; at others, the backgrounds are left rather to do as they please, which is a technique you either like or you don’t. Indeed, the album starts very oddly before settling down: a short, jazzy piece unlike anything else on the disk is followed by a six-minuter in which very quiet and rather aimless violin sounds are just audible beneath the sound of a running stream. Then “Holz auf Holz“, at which point many listeners will be tempted to turn the thing off and have done with it.

It would be a pity if they did, because there is a lot of enjoyable music here, well-played and packed with energy and excitement. The long track, “Mandala“, is well-titled, and many of these pieces partake of a sort of manic minimalism. This is certainly not an understated album, nor a groundbreaking one, but it’s enjoyable for all that. Indeed, it sounds very much as if it could have been recorded in the late 1960s, when it would have been seminal. Richard Cochrane