Andrea Centazzo and Gianluigi Trovesi SHOCK!!
New Tone 5043 - Released 1984 as Ictus 0016; Released 1999.

Not shocking, but wonderfully atmospheric. When the Mitteleuropa Orchesta broke up, two of its members joined forces for a series of concerts. Their rapport was great; Centazzo says they had "the ability to reinvent on stage every night what was essentially a conversation between friends." And they have plenty to say: while Andrea crashes, Trovesi hums, swoops, and decorates the evolving rhythm. It's a world of sound, a whirl of emotion - and a shock to the system.

Andrea, persistent on tom-toms, brings us to the onset of "Shock". Trovesi, on slippery soprano, trills the nervy theme with hints of Steve Lacy. It then becomes a march: as cymbals form a mist, tiny notes peep from the sax, the chirps of a distant cricket. The beat returns, and Trovesi floats mournful notes with the touch of an oboe - dignified, and profoundly sad. The "nature" mood comes back, only more turbulent. A high bleat leads to deep rumbles, the bass drum gets frantic, and Trovesi more so. One final squawk at the end, bolstered by echo, and he creeps away in a fog of percussion. An electric moment.

"Cen.Tro." is an eternity in four minutes. Life goes on at the dock: a bell tolls, a horse snorts, and the foghorn sounds. (Trovesi does both on a bass clarinet.) The bells turn more exotic, and now we hear gongs: the port is somewhere East. Colors drift and the sun slowly rises; nothing happens but the mood, and that is enough. "Tro.Ce." is a world away: Trovesi on a vigorous march, the strident notes proud but worried. It sounds like modern classical; the clarinet's quizzical notes fall on a bed of echo. Andrea takes to the blocks, and percussion trades with the quiet reed - shades of Takemitsu. Now the gongs, and while Andrea goes wild, Trovesi stays dignified - a wonderful contrast. Andrea is certainly a different drummer, and I'm marching next to Gianluigi!

"Shockmaker" is frantic, Trovesi on what sounds like amplified alto. As Andrea goes strong, his partner erupts: greasy lines of blurred notes, some late-night struttin' and an aggression we didn't know he had. The closest thing here to straight jazz, and a wonderful dose of fury. "Day in Tunisia" has a walking marimba, and a line close to Ravel's "Bolero". It's bass clarinet with the stance of a baritone sax; he answers himself with dubbed clarinet, high and peaceful. Mist rolls in as several basses make a bagpipe drone, joined by gongs. It's the harbor sound of "Cen.Tro.", only louder. Andrea's solo takes a lot of bells, intermittent drums, and layered shimmers - intense, but calm. The parts are disparate, but it works as a whole - like the group itself.

When recording was done, the musicians left the studio and were startled to find themselves in a blinding snowstorm. (They ended up having to walk home.) So wrapped in their music, the men lost all contact with the outside world. Hearing this, toy can see why: between thunders and whispers, the intricate lines and earthy moods, they create their own environment. And you'll feel right at home. - John Barrett

Hollow Ear