Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Liquid Quintet - Flux (2019)

Liquid Quintet

Agustí Fernández - piano
Artur Majewski - trumpet
Albert Cirera - saxophones
Rafał Mazur - bass
Ramon Prats - drums


FSR 2019/17

By Adam Baruch

This is a live recording, captured during the 12th Ad Libitum Festival in Warsaw, by the Liquid Quintet, one of several Improvising Music ensembles under the "Liquid" moniker, led by Spanish pianist Agustí Fernández. The other members of the quintet are Spanish saxophonist Albert Cirera and drummer Ramon Prats, who together with Fernandez constitute the Liquid Trio, and Polish trumpeter Artur Majewski and bassist Rafał Mazur. The album presents five tracks, all co-credited to the five musicians taking part in the music-making process, as appropriate for the idiom.

Fernández, who is undoubtedly the most internationally recognized representative of the Spanish musical Avant-Garde, is a most prolific artist with a huge number (around 100) of recordings as a leader and sideman, probably more than any other European Improvised Music activist. There is nothing wrong with this fact per se, but it does create certain "cautiousness" upon approaching his recordings. The connection between him and the Polish Avant-Garde is quite natural and produced several earlier fruitful meetings, including the participation of Mazur on several occasions.

The music is exactly what one would expect from such spontaneous performance; a continuous barrage of notes exchanged between the quintet members, which vary in intensity from hardly audible to overwhelming, creating, as the title suggests, a prolonged flux of energy and sound. There us an obvious affinity and musical conversation between the quintet members, but with a complete lack of melody, harmony and structure, this music can be considered as "digestible" only by the very innate circle of hardcore Improvised Music/Avant-Garde connoisseurs, which of course is perfectly fine.

All five musicians are excellent instrumentalist, which can be heard by a trained-ear listener. Although the concept of soloing is nonexistent in a group improvisation idiom as such, there are many moments where just one musicians is left "up front" by his cohorts and is able to articulate his statement more recognizably on top of the quiet background improvisations. But of course the telepathic communication between the musicians is the essence.

Improvised music is very similar to nonfigurative visual arts; the combination of colors and shapes either convinces the person looking at it or doesn't, which is often mood dependent. This music is offered to the listener on the exact same principle: take it or leave it. Count me in.

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