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Eskalation — Different Music for Bassoon, Wind Synthesizer and Sampled Percussion
(Bandcamp no#, 2001, CD / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2002-04-01

Different Music for Bassoon, Wind Synthesizer and Sampled Percussion Cover art

First the cheap shot: My initial reaction to this music was, “Different.” I’ve heard a fair amount of electronic music, and none of it sounded much like this. There are elements of Twentieth Century classical composition (more along the lines of Stravinsky than Glass), tinges of non-Western sounds like tuned gongs, a bit of RIO, and a few hints of jazz and fusion; and all through it, the presence of the bassoon, with its deep, rich tone and slightly comical vibrato. Eskalation is the brainchild of Stephan Köhr, a veteran of the German jazz and avant-garde scenes. He’s been experimenting with electronic music since the late 70s, and his long experience shows. These compositions are full of inventive twists, unexpected arrangements, and outstanding playing. Aside from Sibylle Szymanski-Köhr’s violing on three tracks and Thomas Forstner’s trumpet on one, Köhr played or programmed everything on the disc. If you are one of those progressive fans who dislike drum machines and programmed rhythms, fear not, for Köhr mixes it all up so well that nothing sounds stiff or mechanical in spite of the actual sources of the notes. It’s even difficult to place Eskalation on the analog vs. digital scale: there is quite a mixture of sound colors. His melodies remind me occasionally of Mark Isham’s, and some of the unaltered bassoon parts bring Stravinsky to mind, but the settings are so unique it’s hard to make comparisons. If you ever wondered about the application of RIO ideas to electronic music, wonder no more.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 24, 2001 releases

Related artist(s): Eskalation

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