On my shelf the only albums by multi-player projects named after the members must be by Flower/Corsano, Twells&Christensen, and Fenn Oâ€™Berg. There are more but those I received as review copies. Which might say a lot about how interested I usually am in what always smacks a bit like academic exercise, showcase or one-off improvisation. More often than not, I feel, such re-leases yield no more than the sum of its parts. Bottom line: If youâ€™re serious about collaborating then make the effort to think up a name that suggests something new has come out in the collaborative process.
Little was I intrigued, then, when I learned that the new Sonic Pieces release by Insa Donja Kai is the project of Insa Schirmer, Donja Djember and Kai Angermann. Turns out I was wrong, however, as Schirmerâ€™s and Djemberâ€™s cellos inhale Angermannâ€™s percussion so deeply that the result is indeed breathtaking. â€śInsomnie Joyeuseâ€ť is one of the best modern classical releases Iâ€™ve heard this year.
Iâ€™ve read some reviewers complaining about exactly what I was scared I might hear, namely three astute musicians playing alongside each other rather than together but I donâ€™t think this is the case at all. The three musicians have played with Hauschka, both live and in the studio, and it is evident that they know exactly what theyâ€™re doing as a trio. In tracks like â€śRed Reflectionsâ€ť and â€śStarglass Stonesâ€ť, cinematic brooding is elevated by memorable melodies. Elsewhere, Angermannâ€™s mallet percussion eerily sounds like a music box unwinding towards â€śEnd Silenceâ€ť. â€śSynoiseâ€ť contrasts hypnotic cello pickings with a range of tsking and chipping to create a haunting atmosphere straight out of the Kammerflimmer Kollektief encyclopedia of dread. â€śYurnadevâ€ť closes the album on a more upbeat note, reconciling mournful wails with unbroken melodies and, halfway through the track, even a hint of italo western euphoria.
If this beautiful album still feels a bit centrifugal, it is because itâ€™s hard to make out a sense of narrative. The label suggests that the album â€śmoves us through the three musiciansâ€™ passionsâ€ť, which to me sounds like a topical attempt to retrace a dotted line. â€śInsomnie Joyeuseâ€ť is opened by a track entitled â€śExpansion IIâ€ť and lines up track titles in various languages. Thereâ€™s little attempt at closure, resulting in a mere collection of timeless gems. And I can certainly live with that.