SSH plays shhh

by Frank Schulte

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dedicated to the inspiring visions of the sorcerer and the spaceman
recorded direct to dsic in sept. 2003 at readymade studio cologne

AllMusic Review by Eugene Chadbourne
Trumpeter Thomas Heberer of Koln, Germany, is featured prominently on this trio recording, improvising more or less as a soloist at great length over backgrounds that tend to stay in the background, regardless of whether they sound like high noon at the subway station or another day in the wasp colony. The trumpeter's collaborators in this trio are Frank Schulte and Norbert Scholly; from the initials of these surnames predictably comes the ensemble name, SSH, but it isn't every anagram that manages to outline a stylistic procedure.

The openings of "Pasticcio" or "Otology," two of the four lengthy pieces featured on SSH Plays SHH, establishes that at least one of the interests of this trio is a hushed sonority of the type strived for by the noise-hating librarian shushing one all with a somewhat threatening "Ssh!"

Their sounds -- the members of the trio, but perhaps the librarian's as well -- get under the skin, Schulte and Scholly seem to be masters of a kind of insinuating life force. The trumpet is, of course, the hunk of metal that would break the librarian's back, but with Heberer's gentle tone and precise dynamics the effect created with the ensemble is extremely convincing.

Obviously Miles Davis is one touch point. There are not only clear references to this master in Heberer's playing, but in much of the modal harmonic structure, funky riffs, and hypnotic pulses the others set up using a combination of keyboards, sampling, computers, and guitars. There has been a fair amount of music made in the electric Davis combo style since the '90s, often involving superb trumpet soloists. In the case of SSH, there is much smaller pile of noodles boiled up out of sheer copying. The small size of the group can mean that it is perfect for presenting a kind of shrunken-head variant, devoid of the admittedly thrilling clutter some of Davis' groups were known for, but all the more fascinating because of that very fact.

Heberer doesn't just "see for Miles" in his soloing, of course. His dynamics are really more like a classical trumpeter, allowing him to present a great deal of information without raising his voice.

Some low register overblowing and greasy, fat-dripping passages give us the all-important jazz lineage: Lester Bowie, Roy Eldridge, and of course the brightness and clarity of Louis Armstrong. The way the ensemble thickens, sometimes adding strange vibrations in the extremely high register, is quite surprising on tracks such as "Phaeton."


released February 1, 2004

Thomas Heberer: Trumpet, Electric Piano
Norbert Scholly: Guitar, Computer
Frank Schulte: Electronics, Keyboards, Turntables, Soundmanipulation
all compositions by Scholly/ Schulte/ Heberer

Alexander Schmid/ Frank Schulte - graphics and layout
pictures by: NASA, Andrzej Kalinowski, Christoph Hillmann


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Frank Schulte Cologne, Germany

German sound creator Frank Schulte works in the fields of improvised music, new music, ambient, experimental electronics, develops expanded media performances and composes sound and music for theatre plays, movies and contemporary dance choreographies and develops intermedia installation for public spaces. ... more

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