Trapeze – Press



Salt Peanuts / Eyal Hareuveni

Trapeze is a Swiss-German-French quartet that came to life in December 2022 during a residency at Malterie in Lille, and features French sax player Sakina Abdou, German trombonist Matthias Müller (both Abdou and Müller played before in the pianist Eve Risser’s Red Desert Orchestra. Müller also plays in Berlin’s Splitter Orchestra), Swiss turntablist Joke Lanz (of Sudden Infant) and drummer Peter Orins (of the French-Japanese quartet KAZE. Orins and Müller played together before in the Satoko Fujii Berlin Orchestra. He also collaborates with Abdou in the trio Abdou/Dang/Orins and shared the stage in 2019 with Joke Lanz in the ephemeral ensemble Butcher’s Cleaver led by Czech trumpeter Petr Vrba).

Trapeze performed a series of concerts and encounters as part of the Lille-based Muzzix musicians cooperative and Associés festival before recording its debut album Level Crossing in December 2022. Abdou, Müller, Lanz and Orins share a common heritage of European free improvised music and free jazz. They have a passion for eccentric sound manipulations and like to push genre and sonic boundaries with their personal extended techniques. Trapeze allows these four improvisers to transform musical listening experiences and disrupt musical and sonic paradigms, and suggest a set of six pieces that play with elusive and loose forms and cultivate ambiguities.

Trapeze is not shy of experimenting with weird sounds and unsettling noises and harnessing these sounds and noises to their rhythmic patterns and slow-burning, chaotic dynamics. The restless energy of this quartet is infectious and Trapeze performs with a joyful sense of invention and subversive, dadaist playfulness that guarantees to stick a smile on the listeners’ faces. The last, 15-minute «A new bike by parcel» captures best the rebellious spirit of this unique quartet. / Peter Thelen

Trapeze is a multinational improvising quartet that came into existence around a residency in Lille that led to a series of concerts as part of the Muzzix and Associés Festival in December 2022. The musicians are Sakina Abdou (saxophones), Peter Orins (drums), Matthias Müller (trombone), and Joke Lanz (turntables), all of whom have crossed paths many times before: Müller and Abdou have played together in pianist Eve Risser’s Red Desert Orchestra, Müller and Orins played together in Satoko Fujii’s Orchestra Berlin, as well as sharing the stage with Joke Lanz in the Butcher’s Cleaver Ensemble led by Czech trumpeter Petr Vrba, and Abdou and Orins are members of the Abdou / Dang / Orins trio with pianist Barbara Dang, their album Lescence / Gmatique reviewed in these pages back in 2020. Yes, this too is some truly wild and crazy shiz — the six tracks at hand don’t fit into any convenient boxes, other than ‘free,’ sometimes veering close to free jazz, guided there by the trombone and saxes honking and squonking, for example on “Trapeze,” but more often than not just fun romps in free-noise territory with a lot of gusto and energy to spare; the drums and percussives can go anywhere and everywhere, and the turntables offer just enough bizarro sounds to make the listener wonder what the heck is going on here. Even with all that said, everyone here plays together well and the results are nothing short of spirited and joyful, a true celebration of open-minded musical freedom on many different levels..

Diskoryxeion / Phontas Troussas

These musicians are, of course, no strangers to the European scene.
First of all, we know the French drummer Peter Orins basically through Kaze (with Christian Pruvost, Natsuki Tamura and Satoko Fujii), and we recently wrote (30 Apr. 2023) about his collaborative CD “Dead Dead Gang” (with Maryline Pruvost, Barbara Dang and Gordon Pym). Matthias Müller is known to us as a member of the Satoko Fujii Orchestra Berlin (where Peter Orins is also a member), the French Sakina Abdou has been on the stage with Satoko Fujii, Art Zoyd and others, having performed with Adoct, Bi-Ki?, Eliogabal, Red Desert Orchestra and Vazytouille, with Joke Lanz participating as an electronics operator in various projects (having even performed with Peter Kowald).
So we are talking about four musicians, who have parchments in the field of improvised music – something that becomes apparent, in any case, while listening to “Level Crossing”.
So Trapeze the figure and six tracks on their CD (with the all-paper gatefold cover), which develop in durations from five minutes to fifteen.
The tracks were recorded in December 2022 in the cities of Lille and Ronchin, France (Ronchin is part of metropolitan Lille) and have a way of making up for it.
Especially the 7-minute “Driving lesson”, with its perfectly tuned dynamic progression and constant effects and tricks, and even the 15-minute “A new bike by parcel”, which wanders through spaces of low intensity at first, but constantly covered with oddities (the playing with the stops on the saxophone, along with the muffled blasts and all the other inscrutable effects give the track a radical feel), before the final shaping, where saxophone, trombone, drums and effects give it their all, tuned into an explosive framework.

Spontaneous Music Tribune / Andrzej Nowak

Saxophone, trombone, turntables and percussion are the tools of phonic torture used to produce the quartet’s album Trapeze. Five compact improvisations and a long closing poem of several minutes. There is a lot going on in this album, also in terms of surprising dramatic situations.

The beginning of the first improvisation meets the criteria of an exploratory game. Trembling brass instruments, minor mysteries from the turntables and humble drumming emerging deep underground. The narrative thickens and resembles a steamboat in the start-up phase. Dynamics are born here both through the percussion and the action on the turntables, whose shreds of phonation glue themselves into a linear story. At the end, the improvisation takes on truly free jazz robes. The second movement is based on a rhythmic percussion exposition. The rest of the crew engage in casual dialogues in subgroups. Speckles of noise on one side, a certain surprising, almost folk-like danceability on the other. The tempo picks up, and so does the emotion, thanks mainly to the spasmodic nature of the trombone and saxophone. The next story takes us into the darkness of prepared phrases and dramatic understatements. Noises, murmurs, trembling cymbals and micro-events from the turntables.

The fourth narrative is inaugurated by the saxophone and gives it a certain jazz twang. The trombone rechimes, the turntables ferment and sound like a third woodwind, and the nimble drumming seems to skilfully bring order to this creative chaos of the moment. In such a situation, it only takes a moment for the astute quartet to take on a free jazz expression. The musicians have great control over the drama here, and at the start of the next story they treat us to the power of muffled murmurs and a plethora of other small, prepared sounds. With the grace of a ballerina, they gain here dynamics, power, but also a touch of almost theatrical grotesqueness, mainly thanks to the quite swinging expression of the trombone and saxophone. The finale sparkles with an almost explosive danceability, again not without the contribution of exceptionally creative turntables. The final story, as announced, lasts many minutes here and is built up far unhurriedly. From filigree, half-prepared phrases and exceptionally charming short-cuts, to final explosions of expression. In the so-called in-between, there are plenty of striking phonic events – a bit of vulcanisation, a dash of hydraulics, percussive fireworks and surprises from under the vinyl needles. The final straight feeds with unique emotions – brass shouts, percussion that beats the rhythm like the heart of the world and a few more gems from the turntables.

Vital Weekly / Robert Steinberger

There is a constant undercurrent discussion about whether we should be reviewing jazz releases here. It is a bit of an individual decision, including how ‘nonconventional’ the release is. This one is a bit of a no-brainer, as it builds a small bridge between the contemporary and free jazz scene and the Schimpfluch conglomerate, something we will undoubtedly consider worth reviewing here.
Trapeze is a new ‘super group’, or maybe a one-off project between Joke Lanz of Sudden Infant and Schimpfluch, teaming up with trombonist Michael Mueller, saxophonist Sakina Abdou, and drummer Peter Orins. Although you could expect a free jazz music racket – this is slightly different. The first piece, ‘A nap in the drawer,’ starts with something you could even describe as a ‘real’ instrument drone. Apart from showing a sense of humour, ‘Driving lesson’ (some mimicked horn honking included) follows more down the lines of free improvisation (which it certainly is) but in a tighter and more focused manner than expected. The sound level is relatively low, and the instruments seem to rather complement each other than work against or independently of each other. Lanz contributes turntables, the occasional voice (I believe it’s him), and the honks (not sure what source he was using), whereas the brass plays around the hectic percussion. ‘Level crossing’ has some recognisable turntable scratching but is otherwise extremely subdued, delivering a more ‘quasi-drone’ atmosphere—a welcome pause after the hectic middle part of track 2.
Track four, the title track, comes closest to a free improv/free jazz piece. Starting with a more or less solo part of the trombone, the saxophone joins later, and the percussion is added towards the end of the piece. In contrast, ‘Disco Kid’ sports more turntable contributions (at least they are best recognised here), with some vocal samples. Apart from that, we encounter more layers of sound with more variety in the instrumental lines. The percussion is still hectic (but then, what options does it have?). And some humour again, considering the ‘strange’ sounds towards the end. Finally, ‘A new bike by parcel’ starts very calmly (expectations building?) and gradually grows into a bit of a racket towards the end – again, the ‘racket’ bit remains surprisingly low profile on this release – the joy of the parcel arriving? Overall, it is a listenable release and a good example of moddy-free improvisation if carefully applied.

JazzMania / Eric Therer

A l’école du cirque, le trapèze demeure une valeur sûre. Il est à la fois figure ascendante de maintes galipettes ou pirouettes et réceptacle d’éclatantes voltiges. Ce combo n’entend pas déroger à l’usage et donne à l’agrès ses barres de noblesse. Issu d’une résidence à La Malterie de Lille, il réunit sous une bannière européenne la saxophoniste locale Sakina Abdou, le tromboniste allemand Matthias Müller, le batteur français Peter Orins et le platiniste helvète Joke Lanz. Ces quatre-là revendiquent sans ambages leur statut d’improvisateurs. Les deux premiers sont membres du fabuleux Red Desert Orchestra d’Eve Risser (dont nous vous rapportions la très belle prestation au Moers Festival en mai dernier). Les deux autres se sont côtoyés dans l’ensemble Butcher’s Clever du trompettiste Petr Vrba. Abdou et Orins officient également au sein de leur trio avec Barbara Dang. « Level Crossing » s’aborde comme une œuvre entièrement improvisée où chacune et chacun évolue individuellement, un peu à la manière de circassiens laissés à eux-mêmes sur la piste d’un cirque déserté par ses spectateurs. Ici, les tours et prouesses se jouent et s’exécutent sans filet de retenue et sans qu’il soit besoin de plaire à un public. Les instruments – mais aussi les vocalises – sont explorés, visités jusque dans leurs recoins les plus intimes et se déclinent en une multitude de sons improbables. Il y a parfois un côté post-dadaïste qui accompagne cette démarche, ce qui la rend moins audible encore. Et c’est tant mieux car c’est peut-être là que resplendit la véritable quintessence de Trapeze.

Ivan Rod

The Swiss/German/French quartet, Trapeze, was formed in 2022 during (or after) a residency in Lille. The four innovative masters of improvised music – saxophonist Sakina Abdou, trombonist Matthias Müller, DJ Joke Lanz and drummer Peter Orins – were brought together by the festival management of Malterie in Lille and Impuls Neue Musik for a series of concerts. Prior to this, the four had crossed paths in different set-ups, constellations and contexts, but they had never played together. However, they got the opportunity to do so in Lille, and afterwards they got the urge to continue as a quartet. And Level Crossing is their first album together as Trapeze. The music is, well, improjazz, free jazz, disrupted soundscapes, sonic fields, amoebas of often formless, unpredictable sound that is, however, almost electromagnetic and industrially alluring. There are obvious qualities to the minimalistically complex sketches the quartet mould – especially in the title track, which has an almost frighteningly narrative quality. We’re clearly in the company of experienced improvisers.