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Stereo Trumpet

Birgit Ulher: trumpet [left channel]
Leonel Kaplan: trumpet [right channel]

1. Otto Sees Anna (16:21)
2. I Did. Did I (4:31)
3. Late Metal (9:08)
4. Stereo Trumpet (10:29)

Recorded in November 2011 and May 2012 in Hamburg
Mixed and mastered by Leonel Kaplan
All music by Kaplan/Ulher (GEMA)
Photo by Birgit Ulher
© 2015 by Kaplan/Ulher

Relative Pitch Records

Just outside

As the title implies a trumpet duo, with Ulher adding radio, speaker and objects, the stereo image reinforced by three of the four track titles which have palindromic aspects.
Within eai over the past twenty years, it's fair to say that brass instruments, generally speaking, have fared better than their reedier cousins. I've always thought it has something to do with how they're easier to depersonalize, to remove the "human cry" that's such a deeply etched part of reeds, particularly the saxophone. I don't mean "depersonalize" in a negative way, of course, more as a means to remove as much ego or gestural identity as possible, something that seems to fit more readily in what became (again, generalizing), the eai aesthetic.
Part of me desires to hear something of a pendulum swing back toward pure tones, at least on occasion. Axel Dörner will dip in once in a while and, on the Wandelweiser front, everyone from Malfatti to Craig Shepard to Robin Hayward and more will routinely play "normally" as far as tone generation goes, anyway. But, as clearly evinced by this recording, there's also still ample room for discovery and (perhaps more importantly) just well-conceived, good music among the breathier, more percussive and abstract reaches of the brass family. The opener, "Otto sees Anna", has a fine dialogic quality, breath tones from one (Kaplan, I believe), percussive rattles in response from the other, intense and earnest, opinions offered seriously but not stridently. There are extended periods of pebbly granularity, the pair creating complex textures that, when overlaid, become very dense and fascinating plus periods of active quiet, the burbling subsiding but always there, always restive. The language is no longer new and I admit, this is a piece (running over 16 minutes) where I might have liked to have been pleasantly surprised by some tonal content, but it's very well-structured, the pace maintained with ease, the warmth of the conversation evident--no complaints at all, really, a fine work. "I Did. Did I" is a concise exposition of whispers and oddly liquid sounds while "Late Metal" meanders more, agitated playing lapsing into silence, popping up at a different location entirely--bumpy, unpredictable and tough, featuring some quite harsh metal scraping at the end. The title track strikes me as the most fully realized piece here, somehow having a greater sense of depth and scope and possessing a very organic feel, of something growing and evolving. There are hums amidst the growls, sharp breath intakes and a rotational sense that works wonderfully.
A fine, imaginative release, even if they never get around to recontextualizing those old attacks... :-).

Brian Olewnick, Just outside, Tuesday, March 03, 2015

The Squids Ear

In an interview published in 2012, trumpeter Leonel Kaplan explained how, as a jazz player, it seemed clear to him early on that great players all developed their own sound and that trying to sound like your heroes worked against developing as a jazz artist. This seems to have been a major turning point for the Argentine-based musician, as it no doubt has been for many a musician working in improvised music. The change of direction meant exploring more contemporary approaches to the trumpet, one of the most iconic of instruments in jazz, from Armstrong to Miles and beyond.
In this set of music, Kaplan, who frequently collaborates with other trumpeters (e.g. Nate Wooley and Axel Dörner), is joined by German trumpeter Birgit Ulher, a compatible exploratory soul who brings a background in visual arts to the table, approaching trumpet much like Bill Dixon did, as offering possibilities of color, texture, shapes and so on. She adds radio, speaker and objects to the basic palette afforded by the trumpet.
The title of this release is what first attracted this listener. What could be better than one trumpet? Two of course. And stereo to boot. But I didn't really know what to expect beyond the instrumentation. The listening experience has been an ear-widening one, as this release sounds like a compendium of subtle possibilities of the instrument, whose timbral qualities of the non-idiomatic sort are the subject of creative exploration.
With the CD in the player, the sounds filling the room sometimes recall metal shop magic, with piercing and grinding, or outdoor renovation projects in full swing in early summer. Air leaking through metal tubes and coming out through a bell is essentially the principle of the instrument, and these two explorers bring out the nuances in that basic concept.
The opener "Otto Sees Anna" is the longest and most thorough of the four pieces, developing at a snail's pace. "I Did, Did 1" is a succinct piece which blends silence and sound in a hypersensitive manner, whereas "Late Metal" and the title track, "Stereo Trumpet" elaborate on some of the touched on concepts, the difference being a bolder set of statements.
The whole thing can stand as a kind of report on the progress being made these days in the conception of trumpet aesthetics. We are no longer living in the age of Miles. Trumpeters (and audiences!) should realize that and move on. Kaplan and Ulher have.

Paul Serralheiro, 2015-10-08,

Petr Slaby

Stereo Trumpet je skutečně vyzrálé dílo, které dokumentuje nezměrné nové možnosti daného nástroje. Je to vycizelovaná mozaika, podprahový dialog, sonická krajina, průhledy do fyzikální laboratoře, abstraktní dílo sestavené z konkrétních zvuků. První rozsáhlá část Otto sees Anna je ještě jakoby dílnou zatímco závěrečná titulní skladba jakýmsi vyvrcholením. Zdánlivá nelibozvučnost roztěkaných, skřípavých, výřivkových, drásavých a chrčivých zvuků se vlastně ve finále spojuje ve zvláštní katarzní protoharmonii. Díky stereoefektu působí nádherně prostorově a zjitřuje nejen váš sluch, ale potažmo přes fantazii působí i na další smysly a vyvolává v mysli černobílé obrazy i brnění po celém těle.

Petr Slaby

Vital Weekly

The first time I ever got a release with split channel audio was a 7" by John Duncan and Chris & Cosey. One was in the left speaker, and the other in the right speaker and if you would play it hearing both speakers simultaneously, you'd have a 'new' piece. I liked that idea a lot; although I never figured to what extent they planned the music, or whether this was a more or less random gathering of sounds. In the case of Leonel Kaplan (trumpet) and Birgit Ulher (trumpet, radio, speaker, objects) it's easier. They played at the same time and it was recorded with two separate microphones. The first piece was recorded in 2011, and the other three on May 3rd, 2012 and I assumed all recorded live (although the cover says, curiously, 'mixed and mastered'. What's there to mix if you separate the channels, I wondered) But I must also admit I wasn't really paying attention - my bad, I know - to the thing of stereo separation, and just sat back and listened. I couldn't even tell, interestingly enough, if my system is actually up with the correct left-right separation; that, I guess, also says something about the way these two people play their instruments: maybe a like, or at least it appears so. This is the kind of trumpet-as-object improvisation and as such they are both excellent players. Ulher is better known to me than Kaplan but it seems to me they both work along similar lines; using breathing in a non-ordinary way, the trumpet as a resonating box, and sometimes as a trumpet - hey, why not? - which makes all of this some very intense music. Music that requires your full attention: you can't do other stuff at the same, like reading a book or hovering the carpet. These forty or so minutes demand your full attention, but only then unfold something of quiet yet intense and very beautiful.

Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly 965

Bad Alchemy

Männlein - Weiblein, Hamburg - Buenos Aires, selten sind Distanzen so gelöscht wie bei diesem eineiigen Trompetenpaar. Die Schmauchspuren, die die beiden bisher pusteten, sie mit Mazen Kerbaj, Ernesto Rodriguez, Gino Robair, Lucio Capece oder zuletzt Gregory Büttner, der Argentinier mit Axel Dörner, Nate Wooley, Christof Kurzmann und John Butcher, die ähneln sich wie Anna oder Otto ihrem Spiegelbild. Zwecks Unterscheidung bläst Kaplan einem ins rechte Ohr, Ulher pfeift ins linke. Und zudem reichert sie den puren Blaseton, wie bei ihr gewohnt, noch mit Radio, Lautsprecherchen und Zeugs an, mit dem sie ihre Blechtute traktiert, etwa kleinen Ventilatoren, die scharrend flattern, während sie tuckert und Kaplan knört. Zu sagen, dass gepresste Laute und metalloid zirpende weit häufiger sind als vollmundig offene und klangvolle, wäre noch untertrieben. Luft und die windigen, betont farbarmen oder quasi 'tonlosen' Geräusche, die sich damit machen lassen, nuckelnd, hechelnd, spuckig schmurgelnd und immer wieder mit metallischem Beigeschmack, sind nicht nur das musikalische Fluidum, sondern machen selber schon die Musik. Wobei wenig dagegen spricht, statt von Musik von Schmauchgängen in Wind- oder von Tauchgängen in Marskanälen zu reden. Da Kaplan zuletzt auf L'Innomable zu hören war, liegt jedoch der Anklang an Beckett noch näher, an dessen Atem, dessen Losigkeit, dessen ... nur noch Gewölk ...

Rigo Dittmann, BA 85,

Ie son du grisli

En prenant le parti de la stéréo, Birgit Ulher et Leonel Kaplan se sont opposés : l’une à gauche (trompette, radio, enceinte et objet), l’autre à droite (trompette seulement).
Ce qui n’empêchera qu’à l’intérieur des conduits tournent et se mélangent des souffles effacés et les rumeurs de pratiques toujours surprenantes (aquaplanage salivaire, roulette désaxée, horlogerie pétaradantx). L’improvisation, bien sûr, est abstraite, et industrieuse jusqu’à ce que Kaplan tisse des tapis capables d’amortir les chocs et, en conséquence, de jouer sur les trajectoires. Alors, le duo revoit ses façons : ici, creuse puis dévale une tranchée en spirale ; là, met au jour une polyphonie de blancs ; ailleurs enfin, réserve un accueil chaleureux à tous les vents imaginables. Ainsi l’imagination d’Ulher et de Kaplan donne de nouvelles couleurs à la stéréophonie qui les travaillait.

Guillaume Belhomme,, 2015/05/27

Free Jazz Blog

A few weeks back when writing about a group from Hamburg, Germany called Piho Hupo, I confessed that I knew little of the free jazz scene in that lovely city. Well, the picture is filling in just a little bit more with Birgit Ulher (left channel) and Leonel Kaplan’s (right channel) aptly titled recording Stereo Trumpet.
Ulher is from Hamburg and she expands upon the traditional approach to the trumpet by incorporating extended techniques and various electronics into her player. She also curates the Real Time Music Meeting series in the city. Kaplan, from Argentina, has been active in the avant-garde scene, recently recording with John Butcher and Christof Kurzmann, among other. On Stereo Trumpet the duo delivers an unusual collaboration that stretches the ears and provides an alternate view of the trumpet.
Ulher is credited with the trumpet as well as "radio, speaker, objects” and Kaplan simply with the trumpet, and together they concentrate on the fringes of tonality and traffic in textures. The sounds of air, spittle, clacking valves and half realized notes come together to fill their musical space. The sound they make is something to lose yourself in, to let wash over you like flowing water, to be a sensation rather than something to hold on to. A track-by-track description would be futile. The music, it seems, is something that both does and doesn't exist - you may just be hearing a throbbing undertone until you forget what you were listening at all, and then a splash of sound redirects your attention.
Stereo Trumpets is a fascinating trip into another world of sound - though it's not an action packed album, it contains a hypnotic motion created by subtle details and changes. Like last year's Bogan Ghost, Relative Pitch continues to showcase experimental music that pushes at the boundaries and leaves your appetite for musical adventure whetted.

Paul Acquaro, Friday, April 3, 2015,

CM Mag

Как ясно из названия альбома, это дуэт трубачей, Биргит Ульхер (Birgit Ulher) из Германии и Леонеля Каплана (Leonel Kaplan) из Аргентины. Формат подобных дуэтов не так прост, как может показаться на первый взгляд: в нём легко потеряться из-за одинакового тембра инструмента. В связи с этим на первый план выходят индивидуальные особенности музыкантов и их умение слушать партнёра и моментально реагировать. Будь это менее опытные исполнители, результат был бы непредсказуем. В нашем же случае это хорошая работа, способная порадовать слушателей современного акустического импрова и ценителей расширенных техник игры на трубе.
С первых же минут в голове начинает крутиться банальная, но правильная мысль “да ведь они разговаривают друг с другом при помощи звуков”. То один музыкант подхватит тему другого, то второй будет внимательно следовать за товарищем. Я не думаю, что Биргит и Леонель очень много играют вместе, даже просто исходя из того, что живут далеко друг от друга. Но у них получилось найти взаимопонимание, которому иным можно и позавидовать. И сложно найти слова, чтобы описывать музыку, а только найдёшь, как замечаешь, что дуэт перешёл к следующей мысли. Течение музыки очень непринуждённо, можно просто окунуться в него и отключиться от посторонних мыслей.
Разумеется, здесь почти нет обыкновенного звука трубы. В наличии: дыхание разных видов, труба как резонатор, объект и так далее. Случаются паузы, иногда логичные, а иногда не совсем; в любом случае, они игрались в очень естественной манере. Громкость редко когда бывает выше средней, а множество событий происходят попросту тихо. Всё вышеперечисленное — признаки этого самого современного импрова. Если вы любите такое, то этот диск для вас. Если не знаете, то это будет очень хорошее начало знакомства

Илья Белоруков / Ilia Belorukov, 03.03.2015,


Relative Pitch est en train de construire un catalogue qui fédère les initiatives musicales les plus contrastées que d’aucuns auraient voulu diviser dans des courants contradictoires. Alors quand le même label US aligne des artistes aussi radicaux que Birgit Uhler, Michel Doneda (en solo) ou Roger Turner, des pointures New Yorkaises comme Joey Baron et Bill Frisell et réunit dans le même enregistrement la dépositaire en chef du piano tristanien, Connie Crothers, et un soul brother de la Great Black Music tel que Jemeel Moondoc, on se dit que vraiment la musique est un langage universel pour le bonheur d’une bonne partie des auditeurs qui aiment à écouter et à découvrir tout le spectre de la musique improvisée qu’elle soit d’obédience afro-américaine ou européenne, jazz libre ou improvisation libre peu ou prou détachée du jazz au point de s’évaporer dans un minimalisme bruitiste « soft noise ». C’est bien cette dernière option qui prévaut ici. Leonel Kaplan joue exclusivement de la trompette en focalisant son approche sur le bruissement de la colonne d’air, la métaphysique des tubes en quelque sorte (pour paraphraser Amélie Nothomb) : en jouant avec de multiples niveaux de pression des lèvres et l’obturation minutieuse des orifices avec les pistons, il obtient un éventail de nuances, de dynamiques, de bruits parasites, des timbres plutôt plombés que cuivrés, tant il évoquent la tuyauterie. Birgit Uhler, lui répond en ajoutant à son remarquable travail à la trompette, l’utilisation d’une radio, d’un haut-parleur et d’objets comme générateurs de sons. L’un dans le canal droit et l’autre dans le canal gauche, d’où le titre Stereo Trumpet. Ce qui m’a toujours fasciné chez Uhler, c’est cette remarquable articulation rythmique avec laquelle elle fait vivre cette expression sonore introspective et presque désincarnée. Avec Heddy Boubaker, Gregory Büttner, Gino Robair, etc via des micro labels. Leonel Kaplan avait gravé, il y a exactement dix ans, un beau manifeste avec Axel Dörner et Diego Chamy, Absence où les scories étaient filigranées au plus près du micro d'Olivier Boulant. Stereo Trumpet établit plutôt des drones statiques où s’inscrivent de lancinants changements de tons, des vibrations cotonneuses, un souffle livide. La juxtaposition des timbres individuels crée un courant sonore où disparaît la marque de l’acte personnel et celle de la virtuosité. Parce que cette virtuosité n’apparaît qu’aux praticiens qui connaissent la difficulté du crescendo parfait sans bavure. Au lieu que chaque duettiste reste sur ses gardes en se distinguant de son partenaire avec sa personnalité musicale propre dans un give and take bien délimité, on plonge ici dans un tout fusionnel dans lequel l’auditeur distingue clairement les sons sans pouvoir en attribuer l’origine à l’un plus qu’à l’autre. Une musique qui évoque une électronique austère, une grisaille bleutée à travers laquelle il faut tendre l’oreille pour saisir le cheminement des lents changements de densité, de couleurs, de vitesse, et l’irruption d’un gargouillis imprévisible. Tout comme un Rhodri Davies, un Jim Denley, un Ernesto Rodrigues ou un Axel Dörner, Birgit Uhler et Leonel Kaplan créent avec talent les conditions d’une autre écoute dans une dimension temporelle et auditive renouvelée. Vraiment remarquable.

Orynx-improv'andsounds, 2015

El Intrus

No exactamente como se la conoce ahora, pero podría afirmarse que su aparición prácticamente coincidió con el origen del universo. Por entonces se la fabricaba con caña o cuernos de animales y se la utilizaba para comunicarse. Luego, con el descubrimiento de los metales, paulatinamente fue adoptando la forma actual. A lo largo de su existencia, ha protagonizado o formado parte de varios de los momentos más trascendentales de la historia de la humanidad. Acompañaron a las grandes civilizaciones aunque de manera disímil. Así como para los hebreos y egipcios era sagrada, los romanos y los griegos le asignaban fines militares, íntimamente relacionados al poder. A la trompeta, que de ella estamos hablando, puede encontrársela en la caída de Jericó, en el Apocalipsis, en la Ilíadax incluso se encontraron dos en la tumba de Tutankamón. Simplificando: de madera, barro o metal, ha tenido una presencia indisimulable en –además de los ya mencionados- pueblos de distintas latitudes y creencias: germano, celta, persa, etrusco, chino, indio, australiano, sumerio, babilonio, etc. Obtuvo una mayor trascendencia aún en la Edad Media; y cuando autores como –entre otros- Monteverdi, Purcell, Bach y Händel comenzaron a, digamos, componer para ella, la trompeta pasó a jugar en las primeras ligas.
Esta suerte de introducción viene a cuento de la edición de Stereo Trumpet, a cargo de los trompetistas Leonel Kaplan y Birgit Ulher.
Leonel Kaplan nació en Argentina en 1972. Su trayectoria artística, en los últimos diez años (y más también), ha tenido una activa presencia no sólo en su país sino también en Europa y Estados Unidos. Es, sin dudas, uno de los músicos argentinos más relevantes en la escena de la música improvisada contemporánea internacional. Ha tocado, entre otros, con Fred Lonberg-Holm, Guillermo Gregorio, Nate Wooley, Jack Wright, Le Quan Ninh, Michael Domeda, Axel Dörner, Sean Meehan, John Butcher, Tatsuya Nakatami, Bhob Rainey, Diego Chamy, Edén Carrasco, Wade Matthews, Ivar Grydeland, Tetuzi Akayama, Audrey Chen, Christof Kurzmann, John Butcher, George Cremaschi, Susana Santos Silva, Klaus Filip, etc.
La alemana Birgit Ulher, en tanto, llegó a este mundo en 1961 en Nuremberg. Estudió artes visuales, algo que influenció fuertemente su música. Desde que se mudó a Hamburgo en 1982, se volcó a la música experimental y la libre improvisación. Una estudiosa e investigadora de su instrumento, desarrolló sus propias técnicas extendidas y se ha interesado especialmente en la relación entre sonido y silencio. Su currículum es impactante y ha organizado el festival de música improvisada Real Time Music Meeting por más de diez años. Ha tocado con Martin Küchen, Lise-Lott Norelius, Raymond Strid, Ulrich Phillipp, Roger Turner, Lars Scherzberg, Michael Maierhof, Heiner Metzger, Martin Klapper, Tim Hodgkinson, Dorothea Schürch, Robyn Schulkowsky, John Edwards, Damon Smith, Ute Wassermann, Albert Márkos, Sven Ake Johansson, Ernesto Rodrigues, Bryan Eubanks, Ariel Shibolet, Christoph Schiller, Sean Meehan, Gregory Büttner, Lucio Capece, Eric Leonardson, Bill Hsu, etc.
Kaplan y Ulher se conocieron en New York, en el año 2007, durante el Festival of New Trumpet; aunque en 2006 ya habían trabajado juntos en un proyecto denominado Reville (música para una instalación sonora / lumínica), pero no se habían cruzado. Desde ese encuentro en New York, tocaron juntos en distintos formatos y con diferentes músicos hasta que hace poco más de 3 años decidieron formar el dúo Stereo Trumpet. Y así también se denomina el álbum que han grabado en ese formato y que acaba de editarse por el sello Relative Pitch.
Ambos no sólo son reconocidos por sus calidades como trompetistas, sino también por bucear permanentemente en las diversas y numerosas posibilidades sonoras que brinda el instrumento que ejecutan, el carácter exploratorio que los lleva a alinearse detrás de territorios sonoros escasa o nulamente transitados, la seriedad, pasión y profesionalismo con que encaran sus diferentes proyectos, la –al menos aparentemente- imperiosa necesidad de adentrarse en los diferentes universos que ofrece la libre improvisación y, entre otras cosas, la habitualidad de colocar al oyente en un sitial donde la comodidad y el carácter pasivo no parecen tener un lugar de privilegio.
Birgit Ulher y Leonel Kaplan registraron Stereo Trumpet en dos sesiones de grabación en Hamburgo el 12 de noviembre de 2011 (un tema, el de apertura) y el 3 de mayo de 2012 (los tres restantes). A esta altura ya debe usted tener más o menos en claro que no estamos, afortunadamente, en presencia de lo que habitualmente se define como un álbum “convencional”. Eso sí: excepcionalmente grabado, brindan la concesión de aclarar a quién se escucha primordialmente en cada canal de su equipo de audio estereofónico (Kaplan en el derecho, Ulher en el izquierdo).
Más allá de las apetencias personales, no hay manera de no reconocer a Stereo Trumpet como un evento artístico singular que excede, por un sinnúmero de motivos –algunos de ellos ya apuntados- el universo musical. Esta inusual experiencia sonora contiene elementos que pueden provenir de o bien dirigirse hacia otras disciplinas como la danza, la pintura, la literatura, el teatro, el cine, la fotografía, etc., provocando en el oyente sensaciones que van mucho más allá de lo auditivo. Se exige del receptor un alto grado de compromiso y también de complicidad. A su vez, recibe estímulos importantes que en cada caso sabrá cómo decodificar para su mayor o menor disfrute.
Luego de varias escuchas (la primera de ellas, debo reconocer, en un momento inadecuado), permítame que opine que Birgit Ulher y Leonel Kaplan, en Stereo Trumpet, han entregado un documento a todas luces atemporal y universal, absolutamente desfronterizado, con límites que se traspasan sutilmente pero sin concesiones, donde lo cerebral no impide la pasión, la erudición se funde con la sencillez, el asombro se torna lúdico.
Aún hoy no existe una manera certera de definir el arte.
Stereo Trumpet ha llegado para –afortunadamente- seguir acrecentando esa indefinición.

Marcelo Morales, El Intrus, 2015


Creating unaccompanied free-form duets can be more of a challenge with trumpets than any other instrument. With no series of keys like a saxophone or even the additional timbres stretching from a trombone slide means that inspiration must be expressed through fingering and breath control. Two international brass duos – German Birgit Ulher and Argentinean Leonel Kaplan plus German Axel Dörner and Japanese, long-time French resident Itaru Oki – deal admirably with the situation. Yet each twosome untangles the puzzle in a unique fashion.
Kaplan-Ulher define their instrumental meeting as one centred around sound sources that just happen to emanate from brass instruments. Kaplan has use variations of this trumpet transformation in bands with British saxophonist John Butcher and others. Experienced in all sorts of brass transmogrification, Ulher uses a radio, speaker and objects to alter her horn’s timbres. Meanwhile the other duo concerns itself with the limits to which brass sounds can be pushed while still retaining recognizable trumpet and flugelhorn timbres. Dörner, who plays both Free Jazz and Free Music, has been refining this concept for years alongside many other Euro improvisers, including Butcher. Oki has worked with everyone from guitarist Raymond Boni to bassist Benjamin Duboc
During longer and shorter improvisations, Kaplan-Ulher maintain interest in antithetical manners, either by producing floating unaccented air vibrations or by violently forcing immutable brass tones against seemingly immoveable objects. While the staccato violence associated with the latter technique creates notable percussive qualities, often leavened by tick-tock pressure from Ulher’s objects – imagine an all-metal space traveler thwacking brass tones with antennae – the former is often just as effective. Constant lip-and-tongue pressure against the mouthpiece inflates the result to dense squirming forward motion. With brief brass blasts alternating with backwards rattling tones, the combined dissonance adds up to a corrosive climax. Most instructive is the concluding title track as the two play in tandem as if Nikola Tesla-harnessed electronic impulses are passing between them. Whistling shrills and drones in overdrive combine for a wheezing conclusion that defines the program as it masks textural identification.
With Root of Bohemian in contrast there’s no question that brass instrument are being played, although ascribing individuality is almost impossible. Snores and growls from pursed lips alternate with barely-there breaths leaked out the way water leaks from a sieve. With one brass player creating a more-or-less chromatic line and the other sucking and snarling around it, in some cases distant turns become melodic. On “Tentishirazu” for instance, the affiliated tones are eventually assembled into a sonic portrait whose attractiveness is made all the more striking as it’s built up from brief pointillist bites, extended whinnying and even a skewed variant of “Reville”.
Janus-like attributes of tonality and atonality are tested on earlier pieces such as “Space (Change from Silence)” and “Kazaana”. As animalistically suggestive as it is musical, the latter finds simian-sounding tremolo from one horn neatly surmounted by stinging pitches that could come from a slide-whistle shrills or sul ponticello violin motions, then blasted into satisfying wide textures. As connective in its way as Ulher and Kaplan are on their defining duets, burbles tremolo snorts and vacant, valve-less sighs are pushed forward by Oki and Dörner so that tandem connections arrive as the two approach the line from high and low pitches as well as dampened and emphatic tones.
Displays of how far brass timbres can be pushed are unabashedly demonstrated on Root of Bohemian. Pushing the boundaries still further out is Stereo Trumpet. Denying the intuitive brassiness of the trumpet to transform it into a sound may not be for everyone, just as the tone mauling may not attract others. But if charting in how many interesting ways the brass horn can be configured interests you, then so will these experimental sessions.

Ken Waxman, Jazz Word 8-26-15,

Sound of Music

Två trumpetare som joxar med radio och en massa smågrejer. Det finns något konventionellt i dag över att använda elektroniskt förstärkta ting, ungefär som att gå med metalldetektor över samma gräsplätt om och om igen. Så kan det tyckas, för så låter det ofta. Men Ulher och Kaplan hittar aldrig tillbaka till den där första grästuvan. De söker vidare. Med andedräkten vått väsande och metallen klingande och klickande hör jag Ulher i ena kanalen medan Kaplan litet förstrött pillar på sina småsaker och väser med sin trumpet i den andra. Konstigare än så är inte upplägget. Men det blir ett intensivt snack jag inte vill missa, ungefär som att tjuvlyssna på någon. Fast musikaliskt. Ett slags lo fi eller minimalism, där musikerna tror att det räcker med utandningsluften, att det är nog med att slå an ett föremål i enklaste rytm, att framkalla ett knarr ur radion. Det märkliga, tycker jag, är hur denna minimalism faktiskt fungerar. Fjärran från intellektuella koncept eller konstiga programförklaringar. Låt mig kalla det naivism. Om du då förstår det som lekfullhet i bästa mening. Att göra något utan avsikt, endast vara inne i det. Musiken blir på så sätt utan tid. Den existerar just nu hela tiden. Och ingen kan explodera i fräsande tonlöshet som Ulher. Snart har de två funnit de mest ystra figurer att snurra runt i. Eller spännande källarljud att undersöka. Det här är en musik som bara söker, som aldrig går i mål, som absolut inte kan upprepas. Andlöst. Så andlöst och fullt av andedräkt att jag till slut tycker att det svänger om det. Då kommer jag att tänka på, hur nära jag kommer de två musikernas andetag och puls. Nästan som om de drog över min panna med sina fingertoppar.

Thomas Millroth, Sound of Music, February 5, 2015

The Poison Pie Publishing House

In St. John's vision of the apocalypse, seven angelic trumpeters presented non-idiomatic performances. Because this article is intended as a belated review of "Stereo Trumpet", a duet performed by Birgit Ulher and Leonel Kaplan, we limit ourselves to recounting the performances of only the first two angels. We reproduce the descriptions, courtesy of the Douay-Rheims Bible, one at a time.

And the first angel sounded the trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mingled with blood, and it was cast on the earth, and the third part of the earth was burnt up, and the third part of the trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. [Rev. 8:7]

Birgit Ulher (b. 1961, Nuremberg, Germany) has "established a distinguished grammar of sounds beyond the open trumpet". ( While she has developed a unique repertoire of extended-playing techniques, it has thus far been free, to our knowledge, of accompaniment by hail and fire, and remains unmingled with blood. It is true that one can hear in the movement of air through the brass tubes, the intimation of a mighty wind. Perhaps, if this breath were amplified on a biblical scale, such a gale might lay low houses and topple castle walls. When attributed exclusively to the lungs of Ms. Ulher, the sound inspires the listener to merely imagine calamity, especially the total deconstruction of the dreams of Francois Perinet, who in 1839 invented the piston-valved trumpet with the goal of making the trumpet fully capable of generating the chromatic scale. In terms of its sonic repercussions, the effects of the trumpeting of Ms. Ulher are not confined to the Earth, the trees and green grass. Indeed, the ears of Homo sapiens, Canis lupus familiaris and other species can be attenuated to these acoustic waves.

And the second angel sounded the trumpet: and as it were a great mountain, burning with fire, was cast into the sea, and the third part of the sea became blood: [Rev. 8:8]

Leonel Kaplan (b. 1973, Buenos Aires, Argentina) has opted to forgo the volcanic impulse to cast mountains en masse into the sea in preference for scattering manageable pieces one at a time, paying special attention to the clatter each stone makes as it skitters down the slope to the beach. Such is the attention to detail required when one seeks to redefine the sound of an instrument. Again, based upon our limited knowledge, Mr. Kaplan has not yet been able to transform any fraction of the sea to blood with his trumpet, nor have we any indication that he has expressed interest in such an endeavor. To the contrary, it seems his interest is in the transformation of intentionally recalcitrant sounds into music through the gentle perversion of brass and wind.

Naturally, one is left to wonder what sort of apocalypse is heralded by the combined trumpeting of Ms. Ulher and Mr. Kaplan. It is perhaps not the bombast St. John imagined would accompany the cataclysmic Second Coming. Still, we can imagine more modest and intimate personal apocalypses, for which "Stereo Trumpet" provides the appropriate soundtrack. In such a case, there is some modulated dismantling of the self, in which erratic and unintended fraying around the edges threatens both the coherence of the self and the intentionality of the act. A new, unanticipated form arises from the resulting chaos. It is frightening in its unfamiliarity at the same time as it is pleasing in its unexplored potential.

One may wonder about the utility of comparing a musical recording to biblical verses. Regarding the capabilities of the trumpet, some readers have likely already perceived the pun, grossly over-played in this review, that "Stereo Trumpet" presented a revelation of sorts to this listener.

The Poison Pie Publishing House, June 25, 2019

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