Daniel Erdmann & Samuel Rohrer – “From the Inside of a Cloud”


From the Inside of a Cloud is one of the more original sounding albums I’ve heard in a while.  Recorded live, this collaboration of saxophonist Daniel Erdmann and drummer Samuel Rohrer gives the impression of a serene chamber jazz performance, except for the sudden interludes of avant-garde edginess and modern post-bop relentlessness.  Within all that fury and motion, however, emit strands and fragments of melodic beauty, and the contrast between environment and expression is thrilling to hear.

Your album personnel:  Daniel Erdmann (tenor sax), Vincent Courtois (cello), Frank Möbus (guitar), and Samuel Rohrer (drums).

The pulsing tempo of album-opener “Cumulus” emits a wavering melody that rides the back of Courtois’ cello’s wavering dissonance, while “Konässörs” is accentuated by the rise and fall of Erdmann’s saxophone calls, broken and flayed by the serrated edge of Möbus’s guitar.

The sax-cello interaction to open “5463” is equaled for thrills by Erdmann’s conversations with guitar, then drums, then cello yet again… the first as patient breaths of melody, the second as harmony via low moans and howls, and the third as a pulsing rhythmic accompaniment to Courtois’ furious cello solo.  On the other hand, “In the Valley” drifts languidly, presenting dark clouds as contrast to its peaceful atmosphere.

“M39-Route to Bishkek” keeps to a casual tempo, the guitar’s nonchalance a nifty counterbalance to Rohrer thoughtful, but excitable drumming.  Meanwhile, Erdmann’s saxophone alternates between accentuating a developing groove and sending out blistering streaks of fire.  This, too, has a counterbalance, this time in Courtois’s pizzicato, the delicate plucking of cello strings offering a lighter touch for when saxophone brings the heat.

The album ends with the sublime “Broken Tails,” which begins as a slowly rising tide of intensity, still waters swelling up into roiling turbulence.  This tide, too, recedes, revealing a bit of a groove, until this, too, is subsumed by a ferocious wave of dissonance that breaks just as the song reaches its conclusion, the final sounds mere sonic contrails of what came before.  A powerful end to a powerful song.

Just a fascinating album.  It was released late in 2013, after I’d already completed by Best of 2013 list… expect it to get some strong consideration when I begin making my Best of 2014 list.

Released on Arjuna Music.

Available at:  Bandcamp | eMusic | Amazon: CDMP3

This same quartet recorded a studio album, too, titled How to Catch a Cloud, and released on the Intakt Records label.  I didn’t find that album quite as striking as their live recording, but it is still pretty damn good.  Worth looking into.  I almost doubled up on this column by including a review of it, too, but just couldn’t fit it into my schedule.

colinvallon_rrugaRohrer also drums on the excellent ECM Records release Rruga by Colin Vallon’s trio, which, arguably, was one of the best albums released in 2011.  I mention it only to further illustrate Rohrer’s ability to navigate a serene landscape.  Read a review HERE.

For the most part, this review is original to Bird is the Worm, but I sorta fell in love with a couple of the sentences that I originally used in my Jazz Picks weekly article for eMusic when I first talked about this album, and I wanted to use those couple of sentences here unaltered.  So, while I’m not even sure I need to do this, out of respect to eMusic, here’s some language protecting their rights to those couple sentences of reprinted material as the one to hire me to write about new jazz arrivals to their site…

“New Arrivals Jazz Picks,“ reprints courtesy of eMusic.com, Inc.
© 2014  eMusic.com, Inc.

Not for nothing, my sincere thanks to eMusic for the gig.  I love the opportunity provided to put the spotlight on so much modern jazz that might otherwise fly under the radar… like, for instance, this album.  Cheers.