Orientation is a vital, assured and technically spectacular set from Florian Egli, Dave Gisler, Martina Berther and Rico Baumann, collectively known as Weird Beard. The disc reveals musicians who have embraced – at least for now – the virtues and mannerisms characterised by spacy, languid atmospherics that the industry has come to refer as “trance” music. True to the word and the feeling, Orientation features quietly hypnotic music much of which is driven by seemingly existentialist impressionistic sketches, portraits and narratives that are “painted with sound”.
While the most prominent brush in the studio is wielded by saxophonist and clarinetist Mr. Egli, the others especially bassist Miss Berther with her full-bodied, and echoey notes also jump into the fray. Their music imparts full-bodied intonation to the elongated and sustained notes that leap off the staved paper as Mr. Gisler introduces little diminuendos and gentle crescendos into phrases that run counter to Mr. Egli’s melodic direction (and vice-versa, sometimes), in the manner of who makes eye contact with you, begins to ask a question, and then suddenly looks away from you in mid-speech.
You hear this, for instance, at the start of “The Big Wasy” and in “No More Rain”, where short phrase-groupings emerge like separate entities. The guitar’s sustaining overhang may not appear to guarantee the saxophone or clarinet’s rhythmic solidity, yet Mr. Egli often comes through with sensitive and steady execution in the winds parts, providing a gentle anchoring presence, despite an overly dry recording. Other songs have their own character and everywhere melodies emerge through radiant harmonic flowerings.
The music of Weird Beard is a delight from beginning to end; upward lyrical surges define the music. In “Empty Shell” the middle of the tune is suffused with loneliness, sadness and consolation in a most lovely way. Meanwhile, everywhere the group’s music balances tonality for the soloists with a more expansive modal writing. Tying it all together, of course, is Mr. Egli, Mr. Gisler and their long, inventive trance melodies hand in glove with Miss Berther and Mr. Baumann’s precision trance beats on this fine recording that merits repeated listening.
Track list – 1: Hanako; 2: Empty Shell; 3: Orientation; 4: Winter; 5: The Big Wasy; 6: The Cat; 7: No More Rain; 8: Playground
Personnel – Florian Egli: saxophone and clarinet; Dave Gisler: guitar; Martina Berther: electric bass; Rico Baumann: drums
Released – 2018
Label – Intakt Records
Runtime – 43:04