Mar 7 2014
Think of Two, the new release by David Helbock’s Random/Control brings together the music of Thelonious Monk and Hermeto Pascoal, both in spirit and in composition. This is music that is both serious and whimsical, at the same time and without one negating out the other.
Thelonious Monk has a singular voice on piano. Instantly recognizable, and a sound that, in all the ways that count, has always belonged to just him. Hermeto Pascoal played music of the earth, both in its elemental nature and the array of instruments he’d avail himself of… proper instruments alongside toys and household objects and found pieces from nature. The music of both possesses a cadence all their own, each breathing out life like none other. It’s really not that strange that Helbock would think to build a theme around both, as one.
Your album personnel: David Helbock (piano, inside-piano, toy-piano, melodica, bass drum , clave, percussion, toys, electronics), Johannes Bar (trumpet, Flugelhorn, piccolo-trumpet, bass-trumpet, baritone horn, tuba, Helicon, sousaphone, alphorn, didgeridoo, beat-box, percussion, electronics), and Andreas Broger (tenor sax & soprano saxes, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute, slide-trumpet, bass drum, percussion, electronics).
The trio affords itself of compositions from both Monk and Pascoal, throwing in an original composition of their own and a track recorded by Pascoal specifically for Helbock after being presented some of their own music inspired by the composer.
Pascoal’s “Voa, Ilza” has a spastic cadence warping melody into shapes unforeseen. Monk’s “‘Round Midnight” has a moody intro that makes its way through the darkness, drawn to the light of Monk’s original melody. Pascoal’s “Nas Quebradas” is a series of boozy histrionics, interrupted by the occasional moments of lucidity when an astute melodic phrase is beautifully elucidated. Monk’s “Raise Four” is a carnival collection of rhythmic oddities, and the melody is led down a funhouse corridor of mirrors, its misshapen reflection as fascinating as the original’s.
The trio brings an armory of instruments to the affair, often switching between them within the duration of a song, flitting about with the same intense unpredictability as their music.
The rendition of Monk’s “Pannonica” is especially inspired. A mix of space age warbling of melody, brief echoes of the original that shimmer out of recognition, and circuitous pathways leading up, around, and over the composition. “Trinkle Tinkle,” with Helbock’s use of a toy piano, has a particular charm all to its own, whereas Pascoal’s “Floresta” is a rare display by the trio of restraint and pure melodic beauty.
“Palhinha do Hermeto e da Aline” was recorded for Helbock specifically by Pascoal and Aline Morena. It’s sixty seconds of frenetic motion that emanates a strange though comforting warmth. It leads perfectly into the sole Helbock original, “Para Hermeto,” a song light on its feet and full of the abounding energy represented by the trio and the musicians that inspired them to record this very intriguing, very fun album.
Released on Traumton Records.
Jazz from the Berlin scene.