Boomkat Product Review:
Naught but drums on the 3rd LP in as many years by Swiss percussionist Julian Sartorius and quartet, Ensemble This | Ensemble That, who have performed contemporary works by likes of Jürg Frey
Both parts of ‘RLLRLRLLRRLRLRLRLLRLRLR’ capture the ensemble, conducted by Sartorius, knitting frenetic, clashing rhythmelodic tonalities in ceaseless durational forms. ‘L’ sees them hammer out a repetitious tattoo that shifts in tone and intensity from pointillist drive to slinkier higher registers that loosen up and splash about according to Sartorius’ sense of modulation that links all his works. The other side begins with a necessary come down from that anxiety-inducing barrage, gradually escalating from shimmering diffusions and grandfather clock chimes to knit into swingeing and rabbly syncopation propelled by unruly low end hits and martial snare rolls.
“‘RLLRLRLLRRLRLRLRLLRLRLR’ is both title and score for the ensemble’s four percussionists. The pattern, consisting of 23 individual beats, is played continuously by the ensemble while Sartorius gradually makes alterations to the instruments played. The result is a piece that has a sustained rhythmic flow yet is perpetually changing. Sartorius’ interventions and the precise musicality of the ensemble allows the listener to discover an expansive array of moods and intensities.
The album is structurally recursive but develops an almost mystical magnetism through an odyssey of diverse musical landscapes. Sartorius explains: «It amazes me deeply how much the sentiment can change based on a musical mood - this sense of curiosity is made audible with this album.» The album recording itself is designed as an endless loop: at the end of the recording, the ensemble’s sound has returned to its starting point, thereby completing a self-contained cycle, with no beginning or end. In this way, Sartorius also echoes his 2021 album ‘Locked Grooves’. Julian Sartorius’ precise and multi-layered rhythmical patterns are keen excursions into the hidden tones of found objects and prepared instruments, bridging the gap between organic timbres and the vocabulary of (experimental) electronic music. He has released numerous solo albums, creates audiovisual art works, collaborates with musicians, writers, and artists, and performs live in intimate venues and on festival stages.”