Have you ever heard an album of trumpet and e-zither? For more than ten years Lorenz Raab and Christof Dienz have been playing shows together irregularly. In 2008 they released an EP with four mostly improvised, live-recorded pieces. Around two years ago they decided to record their first studio album as a duo. They placed just as much importance on thorough elaboration of their compositions as on the joy in improvisations.
The pieces on Vast Potential surprise with a richness in tonal colors, which results from clever use of electronic effects and loop station. In the first piece of the album, “Perlentaucher“ , Dienz already transcends the original sound of the zither into the ethereal and weaves a fine rhythmic fabric that supports the lyrical melodies of the trumpet. A brief, chorus-resembling phrase and a short passage in unison reinforce the song-like character of the composition. In the following “Vast Potential“ the zither buzzes like an Indian tanpura, grounded by long bass notes. Shortly thereafter the piece changes to more rhythmic movement and pointedly placed single notes, a funky bass line and light beats form a groove that inspires dancing motifs from Raab’s trumpet.
Spacey, electronic seeming and crackling sounds are the basis for the quiet „Flora“, whereas „Unterwasserfische“ develops rhythmic character through multilayered zither patterns in varying tempos. In an onomatopoeic manner, small, flowing motifs illustrate a cheerfully colorful underwater world, while the trumpet floats loftily like a manta through the dense bustle. “Sommer im Winter“ sounds more contemplative than the title suggests and here the zither’s arpeggios are reminiscent of a classical guitar. In the following track “On the Other Side” however, it creates a dark, almost eerie atmosphere with long notes in the style of Scandinavian electric guitarists. This returns briefly once more in the piece “Subtle Sand”, which most decisively tends towards an electronica aesthetic. Of course Raab also contributes many facets to the duo’s broad cosmos of sound by playing his trumpet sometimes with dark timbre, sometimes rich in overtones, letting it sing jazzily with mutes or creating poetic and melancholically tinted moods through warmer timbre.
Beside the stylistic openness, Raab and Dienz share a typical Austrian humor, which flashes up repeatedly between the notes and in conversations. The album Vast Potential is also vitalized by this charming attitude that takes art seriously, but regards the self with humbleness and humor. A huge potential is inherent in this unusual combination of trumpet, zither and electronics when it is fulfilled with such aspiration and humor. Lorenz Raab and Christof Dienz have succeeded at molding catchy melodies and subtle nuances into sophisticated arrangements and thereby appealing to a potentially large circle of music fans.
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