Stef, The Free Jazz Collective (17/06/2017) ****
"In 1999, Gunda Gottschalk and Peter Jacquemyn released "E Pericoloso Sporgersi" (re-issued in 2009), a first duet between violin and bass, offering seventeen short improvisations, and which was awarded a prize in the young artist forum of the International Society for New Music. The title means"Leaning Out (the window) Is Dangerous", the first sentence in Italian most European kids learned when travelling the continent by train several decades ago, as did your servant. Today, they take it a step further, "leaning out is dangerous, but it's not forbidden", a title that gives a good idea of where the duo is taking us, far beyond the limits of safety.

And that's how the album starts, with "Viaggio 1" as a staccato dialogue of bowed strings, with short bursts and physical scrapings of strings and wood, and even when Jacquemyn brings something that ressembles a pattern, Gottschalk keeps delivering short and violent attacks with her bow, relentlessly and full of raw energy.

Gunda Gottschalk is classically trained, yet she switched quite rapidly to improvised and contemporary music, having played and released albums with Peter Kowald, who was also one of the mentors of Belgian bassist Peter Jacquemyn, a self-taught musician and visual artist.

"Viaggio 2", the second piece is of a totally different nature. The dark tension of the first part gradually shifts to minimalist repetitive phrases, uncanny and bizarre, over which Jacquemyn sings his wordless overtone singing, learned from a Mongolian tuva singer.

The long third piece shifts the whole time between moods, with even passages on the violin that could be labeled as melancholy or sad, or quiet and subdued, brought by a more paced and less intense dialogue, with both musicians often moving the music forward in the same direction. It offers a gentler side to Jacquemyn's playing, but one of strong interplay and joint musical vision.

I will not go into the detail of each track - four more to go - of completely improvised music, all called Viaggio (journey" in Italian). There is no plan, no concept, just interaction in the moment, and the duo varies a lot. They tease, they battle, they walk hand in hand, they quarrel and they find beauty, only to tear it to pieces with as much pleasure it took to create it, but most of all they explore, the unearth sounds to show the other, who gets inspired to do the same or to challenge, but they travel on the same journey, they make the journey. It's not easy to be invited with them, but once you are, it's a rewarding trip, participating in the creation of music. "