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equilibrium as insta_bility

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about

Improvisation has always been a part of musical practice, typically as a stepping stone towards composition, as a stage for 'competition', and as a supply of ideas for the final composition. Thus, the final composition was in essence a refined solidification of ideas born of improvisation. The social role of improvisation in music changed significantly in the 20th century due to a variety of internal as well as external factors. Indeed, much of musical history is characterised by an undulating pattern: a period in which music is more fluid and can be entirely 'oral' is followed by a period strongly favouring solidified music. But in the 20th century, a new form of 'solidification' besides the established forms of musical notation became possible due to the rapid development of recording technology, leading ultimately to the paradoxical possibility of solidifying improvisation. Coinciding with the growing significance and social role of popular music – itself derived largely from oral traditions – and the wide availability of computer technology enabling the production of music without any theoretical musical background since the end of the last millennium is a decline in musical 'literacy'. A parallel development is found in modernism: it became clear during the radical modernist period of the early 1950s that structuralist and extremely rationalist serialism on one hand and the incorporation of chance into the process of composition (and later into performing) produce very similar results.

The music of Tobija Hudnik and his ensemble equilibrium as insta_bility lies in precisely such a context. It seems to combine, in a peculiar way, the free jazz tradition, radical European modernism, and a selection of uncompromisingly experimental elements of popular music. Experimentation here does not necessarily refer to novel sounds and music, but rather to exploring the cohabitation of musicians, which happens to be crucial in forming musical and improvisational bonds. The basic musical outlines of the ensemble are derived from the psychological profiles of its members and seem to be the key factor defining reactions, temperament, and the degree of resistance and flexibility. The latter predominates the seven ‘focal points’ of the record, from ‘the lowest common denominator’ to ‘Epilogue’: the musicians are tuned to the same atmospheres, and the material keeps shifting from one instrument to the other. Small, pointillistically arranged sonic fragments are at the centre of the soundscape, while the flow is characterised by changes in texture which, rather than favouring the abrupt, are mostly linear and gradual. The resulting ‘murmured’ soundscape is occasionally punctuated by solos (an echo of jazz) and long, sustained tones acting as troughs, but both tend to quickly dissolve into the original, fluid state of matter. Small particles of material restlessness form the basis of the musical energy, yet the dialectic quintessence of the record resides in the interrelation between an overflowing musical burble of eternal restlessness and a static permanence, and the music springs forth from the pursuit of securing transitions between the two opposites, an equilibrium.

Improvisational music, of course, should not be taken as a definitive, immutable statement, even if it is solidified into a digital record. It remains in motion, continues to emerge and fade. In this duality of restlessness and its unacceptability, I find, lies the exploratory pivot of Hudnik's record and his search for his own musical signature which continues to elude taking on a definite form, but charts a distinct path through concentrations, descents, dilutions, and rises.

Gregor Pompe
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Improvizacija je bila vedno del glasbene prakse. Največkrat je služila kot priprava za kompozicijo, tudi kot »tekmovalni« poligon, največkrat kot zaloga idej, iz katerih je črpala končna kompozicija, ki torej pogosto ni bila nič drugega kot izčiščena fiksacija idej, porojenih v improvizaciji. Družbena vloga improvizacije se je močneje zamenjala v 20. stoletju, pri čemer gre vzroke iskati tako izven kot tudi v sami glasbeni umetnosti. V veliki meri celotno glasbeno zgodovino zaznamujejo valovi, po katerih je glasba izmenično manj trdno fiksirana, lahko temelji v celoti na »ustni« tradiciji, spet drugič pa se zaveže kar se le da trdnemu fiksacijskemu temelju. V 20. stoletju pa »fiksacija« ni več povezana zgolj z notacijskim sistemom, temveč jo omogoča tudi razvoj snemalne tehnike – v končni fazi to pomeni, da je, paradoksalno, mogoče fiksirati tudi improvizacijo. Vse bolj odločno je nase in na svojo izjemno družbeno vlogo opozarjala tudi popularna glasba, ki je izhajala iz ustne tradicije, k opuščanju glasbene »pismenosti« pa je svoj lonček ob koncu 20. stoletja dodal še izjemen razmah računalniške tehnologije, ki je omogočal produkcijo glasbe brez vsakršnih glasbenoteoretičnih znanj. Podoben obrat pa se je nakazal tudi znotraj umetniškega modernizma – v njegovi radikalni fazi na začetku petdesetih let prejšnjega stoletja se je namreč pokazalo, da daje skrajno racionalizirani in k strukturalizmu nagnjeni serializem ter vključevanje naključja v kompozicijski (kasneje tudi v izvajalski) proces sila podobne rezultate.

Prav v takšen kontekst je potrebno postaviti glasbo Tobije Hudnika in njegove skupine equilibrium as insta_bility. Zdi se namreč, da se vanjo na nek poseben način združuje prav tradicije svobodne jazzovske prakse, radikalnega evropskega modernizma in tudi tistih praks popularne muzike, ki so se zavezale brezkompromisnemu iskateljstvu. Toda to iskateljstvo ni več naperjeno v iskanje prvenstveno novega zvočnega oziroma glasbenega materiala, temveč predvsem prevprašuje glasbeniško sobivanje, ki se izkaže za ključno pri vzpostavljanju glasbeno-improvizacijskih vezi. Tako je osnovna glasbena matrica določena že s psihološkimi profili sodelujočih glasbenikov, za katero se zdi, da je pomembnejša od zasedbe same, saj narekuje tip reakcij, temperament, stopnjo upiranja in prilagodljivosti. V sedmih »točkah« zgoščenke, razpetih med »najmanjši skupni imenovalec« in »Epilog«, prevladuje predvsem slednja – glasbeniki se zdijo uglašeni na skupne atmosfere, tudi izbira materiala preskakuje od inštrumenta na inštrument. Pri tem prevladujejo v materialnem pogledu predvsem drobnejši zvočni okruški, večinoma razporejeni pointilistično po zvočnem prostoru, pri čemer glasbeni tok določajo predvsem njihove teksturne spremembe, ki so redko abruptne, raje postopne in linearne. Takšno »mrmrajočo« teksturo nato na redkih mestih predirajo solistične pasaže (odjeki jazzovske prakse) ali daljši zadržani toni kot oblikovna nižišča, ki pa se kaj hitro razvežejo v začetna, gibljiva agregatna stanja. Osnovna glasbena energija je torej povezana z majhnimi materialnimi drobci nemira, a osrednjo dialektiko plošče moramo iskati prav v razmerju med tem večnim nemirom, glasbenim žuborenjem, celo prekipevanjem in nekakšno statično konstantnostjo, pri čemer se izkaže, da je temelj glasbenosti prav v vzpostavljanju prehoda med enim in drugim, določanju nekakšnega ravnotežja.

Seveda pa improvizacijske glasbe, četudi ostaja fiksirana v digitalnem mediju, ne moremo razumeti kot poslednje, negibne izjave, temveč kot glasbo v gibanju, njenem nastajanju in izginjanju. V tem je iskati tudi raziskovalni moment Hudnikove plošče – v dvojnosti nemirnosti in njene nesprejemljivosti vidim iskanje lastnega glasbenega podpisa. Njegova določnost se sicer izmika, ostaja pa trdna pot, ki vodi prek zgoščevanj, pojenjanj, redčenj in vzponov.

Gregor Pompe

credits

released December 18, 2020

Mladi raziskovalci III. - Tobija Hudnik
equilibrium as insta_bility

Brina Kren - alto saxophone
Oskar Longyka - violin
Lenart De Bock - tenor saxophone
Luka Poljanec - percussion
Tobija Hudnik - guitar

All compositions by Tobija Hudnik
The music was created during the festival workshop Mladi raziskovalci III. / Young Researchers III. mentored by Dré A. Hočevar.

Recorded at the 25th Jazz Cerkno festival on 19th September 2020
Recorded by Iztok Zupan
Mix and mastering by Dave Darlington
Produced by Dré A. Hočevar
Design by Fejzo Košir
Liner notes by Gregor Pompe
Translation and proof reading by Nik Flegar
Live at Jazz Cerkno logo by Milan Erič

Released by PureZen Records and Jazz Cerkno Records in coproduction with .abeceda Institute.
Supported by the Ministry of Culture of Slovenia.
PureZen Records is a division of Porezen d.o.o, Cerkno, Slovenia.
Live at Jazz Cerkno is a series dedicated to releasing live recordings from the international festival Jazz Cerkno, Slovenia.

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Live at Jazz Cerkno Cerkno, Slovenia

Live at Jazz Cerkno is a series in collaboration by PureZen Records and Jazz Cerkno Records, dedicated to releasing live recordings from the international festival Jazz Cerkno, Slovenia.

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