Last year, the Big Ears Festival invited Christian Fenessz, David Daniell and Tony Buck to play together for the first time. Would it be a match made in heaven? Would sparks fly? Or would two of them end up walking off together and leaving the third to pack up the equipment with teary eyes? To be honest, we doubt their appearance in Knoxville was billed in such a fashion – being, after all, a highbrow avant-garde festival rather than Blind Date. Although, if it were, all three would seem pretty compatible partners anyway.
Every few years, Austrian composer/producer Christian Fennesz releases a new solo album, and in the experimental electronic world, these are a pretty big deal. Since Fennesz's music itself is defined by weight and density-- he likes noisy climaxes, thickly textured electronic drones, and pieces that work on an orchestral scale-- it's understandable that these Big Solo Statements have come to define him as an artist. But those who follow his career more closely know that he's a steadily working musician, with a dependable stream of low-key collaborative releases coming out every year.
Christian Fennesz (guitar, electronics), David Daniell (guitar), and the Necks' Tony Buck (drums) recorded this improvised set at Knoxille, TN’s Big Ears Festival in February 2009. Soundcheck excepted, the trio members had never played with one another. That makes the intuitive, continual rise and drop of energy all the more impressive, but no context is required for the sake of enjoying these four bristling instrumentals.
2010 has been an eventful year for Fennesz collaborative and archival releases, though he’s making us wait for a fresh solo studio album. His Fenn O’Berg trio with Jim O’Rourke and Peter Rehberg released the slow-burning and epic In Stereo in March, and an hour-long cassette called Szampler arrived in the same month, collecting samples used for recordings from 1989-1996. He contributed guitar and electronics to Food’s creepily smooth and summery Quiet Inlet, and a week after the release of Knoxville, his remix of Oneohtrix Point Never’s “Returnal” will appear as the B-side on an Editions Mego 7-inch.
Heard in just over 30 minutes, Knoxville, the debut release by experimental artists Christian Fennesz, David Daniell, and Tony Buck, is a metallic field of shattered cymbals, chimes, guitars, and droning electronic instrumentation otherwise unrecognizable to the unaesthetic listener. Distinction of its four compositions is irrelevant. Each swath of clatter, nearly patternless upon first listen, is the result of a somewhat impromptu session between the artists, recorded on February 7th, 2009 at the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Fennesz Daniell Buck's improvised live album Knoxville is a unique cut that achieves what it sets out to do, though its unfettered experimenting will not appeal to everyone. Guitarists Christian Fennesz and David Daniell, and drummer Tony Buck recorded Knoxville at the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee, on February 7, 2009. According to press material, Fennesz, Daniell and Buck had never played together prior to the recording, which is both impressive and somewhat obvious.
Live improvisations from experimental heavy-hitters. Spencer Grady 2010 If the experimental nexus is capable of producing its own superstar power trio, than this is surely it. Between them Christian Fennesz, David Daniell (San Agustin) and Tony Buck (The Necks) – bolstered by a procession of fine releases and endless collaborative forays – have a significant swathe of the avant underground all sewn up.