Andreas Matthias Pichler - The Waltz Of Our Hundred Kids
Where exactly are the borders between jazz on one side and folk, rock and pop on the other? In what exactly do American traditions differ from the musical lore of Europe? And what makes the Alpine peaks different from the mountaintops of the Rocky Mountains? All these questions turn up, when you listen to the debut album of the Pichler brothers.
In Austria the rhythm-twins Andreas and Matthias Pichler are long regarded as the insider-tip of the national jazz-scene. Wolfgang Muthspiel never tired of highly praising the twins, born 1981 in Tirol, when they backed him in 2005 on his album “Bright Size” and three years later again on “Earth Mountain”, because their urge to spinning musical tales, guided the guitarist to whole new horizons. In New York the Pichlers enhanced their jazz portfolio first-hand. By now the two bold sound-adventurers have traded the peaks of the Alps of Tirol for the street-canyons of Berlin. Always steadfastly on the road in Europe and America, they picked up whatever they found along the wayside, to drop it all onto their own, accentually casual style of playing.
The Pichlers already made music together as little kids. Or should one say, they explored the infinite vastness of the universe of sound with self-made instruments and resonating bodies like the bathtub? In their careers so far, they have by no means only and always stood together on stage or in the studio. However they are always strongest in their symbiotic duo, because that’s when they are ridden by the fearless ghost à la Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, which, in the days of their childhood let them override all rules of the adults.
Thus they can dare something that would inevitably fail when attempted by most other European jazz musicians. Like their brothers in spirit, the American Wood brothers, they use their accumulated jazz background to make a song-album. “Songs” doesn’t mean a collection of actual or alleged jazz standards, but rather that, which is entirely unbiasedly associated with singing. A musical primal impulse, that can’t be locked up in any genre-cage.
In the hawker’s tray of their shared memories they rummaged together all thinkable influences and assembled them into song-pearls, which let these memories shimmer quite differently, depending on the incidence of light. Every comparison would be an allegation, because what the Pichler-twins are presenting here is unmatched. However, intentional or unintentional parallels to Spain, Jesse Harris, The Sea & Cake, the Wood Brothers and even the better times of Simon & Garfunkel cannot be missed.
American folk-tradition, church hymns from both sides of the Big Pond, baroque music, children’s songs, Alpine folklore, No Depression, jazz, the early post-rock – all of that and much more left its traces in the song-hybrids of Andreas Matthias Pichler, who do without the obligatory “and” in the name of their project. None of this ever pushes itself into the foreground; everything unfolds like an aroma over the songs, which can provoke different associations for every listener. The connective elements of the extremely diverse songs are the English language, which the songs are performed in without exception, and the degree of doubly individual sensitivity, that these two guys exhibit here. It might be due to their origin, that they let influences flash up here and there, but generally seem impressively unimpressive.
Just like in their childhood, Andreas Matthias get by with a very minimalistic instrumentation. Andreas plays banjo and drum-set, Mathias plucks and bows the bass, both sing, and that’s it. The fact that completely different sounds manifest themselves in the listener’s ear is because the twins not only innocently and spontaneously start playing music, but also with mastery, sense of proportion and sophistication produce unmistakable entities between song and arrangement. Their aptitude to get a maximum of spontaneous expression out of every note attests to the fact, that they are improvisers of highest excellence.
“The Waltz Of Our Hundred Kids” is a jazz-album without ostensible jazz, a frame-house of natural, unspoiled songs, in which the gaps are filled with urban jazz… In short, an album, of which the verbal description will always end in a helpless balancing act. There’s only one way to solve this dilemma: hearing it, internalizing and listening again and again.