Review: Joke Lanz & Jonas Kocher – Abstract Musette (corvo, Feb 13)

Playfulness is something in which we all should indulge from time to time. Releases like Abstract Musette illustrate that it’s a welcome presence even in musics traditionally thought of as erudite or academic. The gleeful, irreverent sampling and the sprightly musette influence don’t at all detract from the considered improvisational interactions between turntablist Joke Lanz and accordion player Jonas Kocher—they only enhance them. Lanz’s jarring swipes and scratches are often purely textural, occasionally humorous or serendipitous, but always engaging; together with the familiar waltzing slices of the accordion the two musicians’ creations take the form of wobbly, unpredictable cascades and tumbles, almost like a chopped-up field recording of a particularly odd carnival attraction. The short track lengths complement the music well, yet “Rêve de Clarinette,” the longest piece on the album, is undoubtedly its centerpiece, a roiling cornucopia of fleeting horn samples, record crackle loops, pitched-down vocal extracts, and breathtaking extended techniques. The instruments Lanz and Kocher use, historically speaking, obviously have very different levels of involvement with improvised music in general, but the record nonetheless showcases a pair of revolutionary unconventional approaches that are fascinating enough on their own—and even more so amidst the infectious stylistic territory achieved on Abstract Musette.

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