Review: The Pitch – KM28 (Tripticks Tapes, Jul 16)

I first encountered Berlin ensemble The Pitch via their 2015 live album Frozen Orchestra (Amsterdam), released just a month after their studio debut, and which features an impressive guest roster of Lucio Capece, Valerio Tricoli, Okkyung Lee, and others in addition to the core lineup of Baltschun, Nutters, Olsen, and Thieke. The sublime Sofa release, which remains a staple on my always rotating set of reliably somniferous records, demonstrates the group’s ability to conjure arresting drone meditations that sounds massive and frail at the same time, gathering both density and diaphony from their subdued string-based approach. KM28, a new cassette from formidable new improvised music imprint Tripticks Tapes, documents a live performance from October of last year that presents a few apparently novel directions for the musicians, namely forays into just intonation tuning and duo/trio subsets. Besides “Frozen Just,” a reimagining of a 2018 piece originally recorded with the prodigious Splitter Orchestra, and “Just Pillars (String Redux),” each of the sections of KM28 is titled for the materials used to create it, i.e. various combinations of vibraphone, clarinet, bass, sine wave generator, and custom magnetic tape delay systems. Though the former two tracks will feel the most familiar to existing fans—and the sustained, crystalline trance of “Frozen Just” especially is an otherworldly high point of the whole tape—the more adventurous excursions introduce welcome diversity to this often deliberately glacial music. The pair of cassette delay experiments are particularly strong; despite making use of effervescent electronic textures atypical for The Pitch, they ultimately feel just as relaxed, contained, and purposeful as the rest. What a lovely evening this must have been for those lucky enough to witness it.

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