Flüchtige Musik (2 vinyl LP)
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published in December 2016
2 LP gatefold sleeve with black poly-lined inner sleeves
A collection of recordings from 1987 to 2013 by German experimental band Argo. The double vinyl LP features mostly live performances overviewing the work of the trio (violin, viola, clarinet) around the notion of transient music.
The trio Argo was formed in Darmstadt in 1985 by Hans Essel, Marit Hoffmann, and Thomas Stett. It existed until 2016 when it was forced to an end by the untimely death of Stett. Argo set out to explore new ways of free collective improvisation that were aimed neither at personal expressivity nor at the evocation of a certain mood or atmosphere. Eschewing any compositional agreements, they experimented with musical forms and processes that emerged spontaneously between the poles of the players' individual lines of improvisation. They played with fleeting objects of sound and transformations, inflections, and disruptions of those objects. Unexpected noises that could arise at any time required and provoked fast reactions of the players. Argo utilized three classical instruments without any preparations but over time developed an augmented range of sound generation techniques on these instruments. Their playing bears almost no traces of tonality, harmony, or rhythm. The title of this edition, “Flüchtige Musik”, translates as “fleeting music” or “transient music”.
The double LP collects recordings made mostly live between 1987 and 2013. The first recording still shows traces of classical sound material but also includes other sound generators like styrofoam and cardboard that were left out later. Already in 1991, Argo had settled on using the three instruments exclusively but with a new range of sounds that can be heard throughout the subsequent recordings. On a few occasions, Argo transferred their concept to experiments with their own speaking voices. This led to “Flüchtige Wörter” (“fleeting words”), one recording of which is also included.
Limited edition of 300 copies.
The group Argo was formed in 1985 in Darmstadt, Germany, by Hans Essel
(violin), Marit Hoffmann (viola) and Thomas Stett (clarinet). They do not follow traditional ways of improvisation like any kind of jazz, but develop a different concept of improvisation not based on expressionistic ideas of music. First, they worked out a very special characteristic of playing the instruments violin, viola, and clarinet. It is based on permanent exploration and experimentation with the instruments in a way that unexpected results can happen any time and require fast response. The specific unpleasing sound is not used for enhanced expression but rather for development of form.
Form, however, in the context of improvisation and uncertaincy and not composition. Besides mixing tones Argo plays with parameters like consistency, density, parallelism, intention and interaction. As there are phases where the three play rather independently their own threads and sometimes very synchronized intended actions forming recognizable objects. It was not clear from the beginning if this concept evolving over years could lead to a kind of unique music which can be understood by others. Starting from 1998, the group tried to realize the same ideas using voices only. Not singing, not speaking, rather decomposing words, articulation of phonemes, elements of speaking.