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Album Review

Recorded over two days at La Fourmi Theater in Lucerne, Switzerland, in January of 2004, this album features a top-notch quartet of Swiss improvisers in a gripping electro-acoustic setting. Guitarist Christy Doran and keyboardist Hans-Peter Pfammatter make ample use of electronics, while drummer Fritz Hauser and sax player Urs Leimgruber opt for a strictly acoustic approach. Also, the latter's form of improvisation is very close to the vocabulary of European free improvisation, while the electric half of the group explores more ambient pastures. La Fourmi is thus a dichotomic affair and works wonderfully well that way. Leimgruber is an adept of close-miking techniques, focusing on breathing sounds rather than notes. This approach, surprisingly physical, no matter how restrained it may sound, offers an unexpected match to Doran's guitar soundscapes (and occasional noise mayhem, as in the last minutes of "Set 2"). Hauser's feather-light activity answers Pfammatter's burbling electronics and backward samples. And the quartet works from these bases, building a lively chassé-croisé of dialogues. The album consists of two extended sets. Despite the long durations, things move briskly, as moods are quickly altered, dynamics changed, and relations destabilized. Fans of Doran's New Bag (in which Pfammatter plays) might feel a bit lost in this highly abstract, visceral performance, but perseverance will have its rewards. It is especially refreshing to hear Leimgruber in a noisier context, quite different from what he plays in his other projects, such as his trio with Jacques Demierre and Barre Phillips. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Biography

Born: Dublin, Ireland

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

The Irish-born Doran has lived in Lucerne, Switzerland, since he was a child. His first exposure to music came through his father, a singer of Irish ballads. In the '70s, Doran helped found the band OM, with Fredy Studer, Urs Leimgrumber, and Bobby Burri; the band recorded several times for the Japo/ECM label. Although not particularly well-known in the United States, Doran has played with a good many first-rate American experimental and free jazz musicians, including saxophonist Marty Ehrlich, flutist...
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La_Fourmi, Christy Doran
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