" ...I can hear some of that innocent charm found in early Harry Nilsson or maybe early David Bowie. What this has to do with Derek Bailey, I am not quite sure. I am most enchanted nonetheless. I could see this disc getting a glowing review in Mojo Magazine if they would only take the time to listen.
A gift from the gods, perhaps? No, a truly a unexpected delight... "
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music gallery NYC
" ...memory is sometimes stronger then reality, but not so with Otto Fischer and his drummer. They wove a spell Thursday evening at the Stone in which the audience could have their alchemical space cake and eat it as well. We drove up a few hours and a few states north to the city, which was strangely foggy when we saw the skyline. Finding the Stone was not so direct, we parked right outside and walked by it more then once before catching the last song of his first set, "Anima Uma". By the second set the seats filled out more and the audience, including our baby Jaz in her stroller, were taken on a magic mysterious tour de majuere...
Like a sorcerer making wine out of water, he layered various chord progressions, suggesting a 'known' chord pattern in 'jazz', though not someone else's: his own. Yet it was not jazz, it was not rock- it was not angry. In a Anthony Braxton sense it did not 'swing' by the rules of triplet ride cymbal syncopation. The very ghosts of what we thought about 10 seconds, or 10 years ago followed us. Entropy dissolving gently, thru the looking glass of our own regrets, dreams and lost loves like a vapor trail dying into a smog enhanced sunset over the Martian steppes centuries from now. Like astrophysicist Steven Hawking, whose presence Otto Fischer may have channelled (as much as Bill Frisell's in any case) from his time spent in the Oxford Improvisers Orchestra. He has gone beyond the event horizon, energy bends/ disappears into a vortex of imagination.
Odd partials of chords float in the air, sometimes jagged and other-times actually backwards, in his own words to "not let a phrase get too literal". Drifting across the room, quietly, each chosen not random. In some songs they built up in a way that felt like when you are thinking, quite earnestly, about two things at once... or was it 200? Really, when noted now~jazz guitarist Brandon Ross sat in on acoustic soprano guitar (tuned from A up as opposed to E) during the first few numbers, the 3 musicians listened to each-other at least as much as they stated anything. The result was free of the cynicism or irony so prevalent in mass media post-modern nihilism.
The question of "can anything really new be created" (regularly answered by so-called 'culture experts" in the arts) as a resounding "NO" for decades is proven wrong here by these catch-it-while-you-can songs. Being partially improvised and electro~acoustic in nature, it's like the leaves changing in the fall. Guaranteed to last a brief time, and within that limitation, still be changing every moment as the air switches from warm to cool. At one point he asked the volunteer staff doorman to switch the fan back on. Was it was the slow intensity of his singing? Otto's is like Chet Baker's in a fun-house mirror: laconic, melancholy, optimistic and daring. With androgynous upper register focus which never borders on the maudlin nor is a pure falsetto; words warped by atypical timing of vibrato. Melody sustaining like a soprano saxophone played in the moonlight 'round midnight.
You weren't there and we the lucky few were! Or you were hip to catch his set in front of 458 people at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last week at one of his several Urb/Alt festival gigs. It makes sense that Fischer's first album "Songs" on Incus was Derek Bailey's last album he chose to release while alive. While stylisticly unique from eachother (and the world!), they shared a sense of sincerity which is challenging to even those dedicated type of non-commercially oriented musicians. A level of abstraction that is never "Wizard of Oz behind the curtain", but really just naked emotions presented in a reflective manner, organized as sound.
When reading up on the non profit 'non-bar' performance space founded by John Zorn, I came across a online review of this place where someone complained of the street noise from Avenue C interfering with the music.
This night in one of the most concentrated moments, a doppler~effect car horn in the distance, followed by the closer sound of a hubcap or bottle rolling down an empty 2cd street was answered by the band, unknowingly. A scrape of scrap metal from the drummer and a spiraling riff of guitar, a dust devil of desert notes replied. At this point, they passed the test John Cage posed for modern composition: if urban environmental sounds can coexist with the idea, then it is modern music. All avant~guardians have passed Mr. Cages space age koan. As a sort of digitized electric griot, Otto's only begun to define his unconvential 21st century existential ballad landscapes. Sounds sent thru a surrealistic lens may yet reveal his own truth, views beyond our solar system sending back unauthorized kaliedoscope imaging. Anaphora bliss somersaults inside and out with blind faith. Glimpses from a dark side of the mind past sleep, beginnings or endings: love songs for a jaded age!!!
Wili, Vivi & Jasi Vortices
July 4, 2009 Lancaster PA USA