Dromos / Gligg
Magda Mayas / Anthea Caddy
At first glance, the two latest additions to the catalogue of Lisbon-based Dromos Records are barely recognisable as CDs. Guitarist Olaf Rupp's AuldLangSyne is housed in a large irregular hexagonal sleeve with a front cover painting by Antonio Poppe and leather back cover, and each copy includes a different Poppe engraving. Access to contents is via a slit in the leather just long enough to get a CD through. Schatten, by pianist Magda Mayas and cellist Anthea Caddy, comes in a tactile rich blue membrane made of ink skin designed by Nádia Duvall. And Rupp, Mayas and Caddy ensure the quality of the music is commensurate with its packaging.
AuldLangSyne's nine tracks run for just over an hour and were recorded by Rupp in Berlin in 2010. Although a frequent and successful collaborator, he's arguably at his best playing solo, on both acoustic and electric guitar, and maintains a cracking pace, even when playing comparatively simply and deliberately as at the start of the opening track "Every" (the track titles form the phrase "every dog has his day and a good dog just might have two days"). On acoustic guitar, the musical tumult includes rapidly strummed chords and arpeggios interwoven with harmonic and melodic strands, while sections of the longest track, "His", are highly reminiscent of flamenco. On the electric instrument, notably on "Day", the technique is similar, but bent notes, sustain and variations in volume add variety. Rupp's brain works as fast as his fingers, and he plays with impressive precision even at the fastest of tempi, but the music never sounds like mere technical display: each piece is unique and all are equally satisfying.
Schatten was recorded at Amann Studios, Vienna, in March 2010. Pianist Magda Mayas is such a strong individual stylist that it sometimes feels as if she's dominating her playing partners (as was the case on the recent Great Waitress album Lucid (Splitrec) with accordionist Monika Brooks and clarinettist Laura Altman), but with cellist Anthea Caddy it's a partnership of well-matched equals. As always, Mayas plays the whole instrument, producing sounds that are recognisably piano along with others made by banging and scraping the frame or the strings. In similar fashion, Caddy produces an impressive array of sounds from the deepest darkest arco tones to high pitched screeches. Both musicians are adept at adjusting and evolving pitch, tempo and timbre, sometimes contrasting completely with one another, sometimes both going in the same direction, as in the ominously dark and moody rumblings halfway through the opening track. The recording quality is first rate, and, clocking in at just over 38 minutes, Schatten delivers quality over quantity, and passes the key test of a good album – it leaves you hungry for more.
- John Eyles in Paris Transatlantic Winter 2011 Issue