[Monotype/Bolt; 2011]

Styles: eai
Others: Phil Durrant, Christian Fennesz, Cor Fuhler, Thomas Lehn, Kaffe Matthews, Gert-Jan Prins, Peter Rehberg, Keith Rowe, Marcus Schmickler, Rafael Toral

It always seems unlikely that I’ll be taken aback by a Music In Movement Electronic Orchestra (MIMEO) release, but somehow Keith Rowe, Christian Fennesz, Rafael Toral, Peter Rehberg, et al. find a way with each release to express their unique brand of group improvisation through peculiar filtrations. In the hands of others, these thematic constructions might digress into novelty, yet the ephemera that bind each MIMEO release is explicative and enhancing. From Cor Fuhler literally playing inside John Tilbury’s piano as an assault on the concerto form (The Hands of Caravaggio) to the postage, piecemeal construction of Sight, there are always conceptual devices surrounding MIMEO.

On Wigry, the devices are less rhetorical than they are a practical expression of sound. The members of MIMEO (minus Jerome Noetinger) met in Wigry, Poland (in the northeastern portion of the country), some shortly before the concert, to play and record in the church depicted on the album cover. Each member was routed through his own loudspeaker, transforming the church’s acoustical structure into a spatially heterogeneous ‘sound installation.’ The ability to permute perspectives if in attendance, from Thomas Lehn’s analog synthesizer to Rowe’s tabletop guitar, surely made for an incredible experience. However, Wigry by necessity permits only one perspective: that of Marcus Schmickler, in Cologne.

These narratives are fine and dandy, but the ultimate question is how they translate in recording, and whether the recording is affected by its ex-ante constructs. That isn’t to say that one should disregard the details of Wigry’s production (or emphasize them in a dialectic triumphing ‘what’ over ‘how’), but footnote them, cautiously referencing these facts when appropriate.

And it all sounds lovely, of course. There’s a richness to every second of its 80-plus-minute duration, exactly as one might expect given the setting and idiosyncratic amplification. Amazingly, the atoms (each loudspeaker) of MIMEO build to Wigry’s atomless electronic resonance, as refracted through the church’s acoustics. As for Schmickler’s interpretation, I cannot comment, but I’m mighty happy he provided us with this mimeo. So can Wigry be appreciated without knowing its technical minutiae? Heck yes, but the liner notes prompt extended enjoyment.

Links: Monotype/Bolt

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