Susanna Gartmeyer & Christof Kurzmann - Smaller Sad

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Susanna Gartmayer is an Austrian composer and bass clarinetist working in the fields of experimental rock music, multi idiomatic improvisation, jazz and contemporary music. She is especially interested in the sound possibilities of the low clarinets and the theory and practical implications of working together in bands and collectives. Christof Kurzmann is a performer, musician, composer and curator. After a successful start with his first band Extended Versions he continued his work in experimental electronic music. He has worked with people like Luc Ferrari, Fred Frith, John Butcher, Mats Gustafsson, Ken Vandermark, and has released more than 30 CDs. Smaller Sad is the first album by this duo and was recorded in various locations at various times. Gartmayer and Kurzmann create an often fragile music somewhere between jazz, songwriting and improvisation. Susanna plays bass clarinet, Christof plays ppooll, rubber band and sings. They first performed together at an open session in 2014 and play together regularly since 2018 as a duo. Although the music is improvised, they always focus on melodies, too. Supported by SKE.

Susanna Gartmayer und Christof Kurzmann, die beide bereits auf langjährige Karrieren in den Grenzländern zwischen Jazz, Improv, neuer musik und experimenteller Elektronik zurückblicken, bringen ihr erstes gemeinsames Album heraus.
(African Paper, October 2020)

The standout track is Little Rage. Despite its name there is nothing little about this one. Opening with Gartmayer played a fantastically distressed bass clarinet while Kurzmann just builds the tension in the background is a masterstroke. As the tension swells, so does the bass clarinet. The phrases get longer and raspier Kurzmanns vocals start. They sound like an incantation from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, but more glitchy. As they progress, they start to take on the inflexions of the bass clarinet until its hard to tell the two apart. This is one of the most enjoyable portions of the albums, and one I didnt want to end. As it gradually mutates before our ears the sound of a needle stuck in a records runout starts to kick in. This rhythmic loop adds another level of texture. All the while Gartmeyer has been playing a slightly gentler phrase that gets more abrasive as we reach the songs conclusion. The end of Little Rage sounds like an emergency vehicle siren. But this leads to a question. Is the siren to warn us that it is approaching or that the song is coming to an end. Smaller Sad is an enchanting album full of twists and turns. Each track offers up a kaleidoscope of sound and texture.
(Vital Weekly, November 2020)

Austrian electronic musician Christof Kurzmann bridges the divide between experimental improvised music and electronica, with many projects over a decades-long career. (...) This new project finds him working with bass clarinettist Susanna Gartmayer, who uses extended techniques to create drones and overtones as well as melodies. (...) In combination with Kurzmanns loops, samples, processing and voice. Released on Klanggalerie, their album Smaller Sad as beautiful as it is challenging, really something else.
(Utility Fox, November 2020)

(...) opening with Smaller Sad which opens up the journey into a highly avantgardistic world with a short, Experimental Jazz-leaning intro followed by droning low end pulses in combination with bleeping computational signals and sparse, stripped down harmonic improvisations that could be best described as influenced by Jazz Noir with a deep melancholic late night twist. Following up is Little Rage, a tune as yearning and seductive as the sirens in Greek mythology, pairing innate sadness with Kurzmanns well experimental take on multilayered, processed vocal performance and a heartbeat resembling pulse whilst Dip weighs in tender, somewhat subaquatic and minimalist Tribal percussions alongside, again, deep droning bass tones at the very end of the audible spectrum and looped, yearning background harmonies whereas the concluding, 16+ minutes long Novi Sad finally provides the nightliest, most Ambient-leaning intro sequence on this album, later on introducing busy, somewhat swampy and bubbling electronic background movements and elements of intense disharmonic off-kilter Avantgarde Jazz over the course of its playtime before turning into a highly intimate variation on Experimental Singer/Songwriter x PostFolk music. We re in for this.
(Nitestylez, November 2020)