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J. Peter Schwalm / Stephan Thelen — Transneptunian Planets
(RareNoise RNR134, 2022, CD / LP / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2022-07-10

Transneptunian Planets Cover art

Studio wizard J. Peter Schwalm continues his series of collaborative albums with Transneptunian Planets, featuring Sonar guitarist Stephan Thelen. Schwalm’s recordings with Arve Henriksen (2020) and Markus Reuter (2021) were fascinating creations with different flavors, and Planets continues the trend of exploring variations of expansive atmospheric sound. This time out, there’s a much heavier emphasis on the rhythmic element, and this is the first of the collaborations to significantly feature musicians other than the two principals. In this case we find Sonar drummer Manuel Pasquinelli, bassist Tim Harries (Bruford’s Earthworks, Steeleye Span), and second guitarist Eivind Aarset joining in for something akin to a more electronic version of Sonar. I hesitate to use the word minimalist, though it does apply in a sense. These grooves are endlessly fascinating but are not busy, with deceptively simple drum parts and bass / guitar patterns that lock into them very nicely. I say “deceptively simple” because if you notated the rhythms, they would appear quite basic, such that a novice musician could play them, but it requires a lot of skill to play this kind of music well. In addition to the grooves, all manner of electronic and guitar parts complete the mix. “Quaoar” (all the pieces are named after objects in our Solar System which orbit beyond Neptune, hence the album title) is one of my favorites. This is the longest track, and is a wonderful example of chaos meeting order, with some of the wildest guitar playing on the album backed by one of the best rhythm parts. Transneptunian Planets should be a sure winner for anyone who’s a fan of Thelen’s previous work.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): J. Peter Schwalm, Stephan Thelen

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