Kevin Drumm, Lucio Capece et Radu Malfatti sculptent une matière très sèche, orageuse, une tempête qui se prépare mais n’arrive pas : il n’y a qu’une atmosphère humide et lourde, et des coups de vents brûlants qui arrivent de temps en temps pour nous racler le visage avec des grains de poussière, soulevant des dunes de sable ou des buissons. On entend même les animaux se réfugier sous les rochers. Le vent fouette les joues et les oreilles, dans les suraigus ou dans les graves, selon les falaises sur lesquelles il se cogne, ou les tuyaux jetés par terre pas lesquels il se faufile. On est seul. Tout autour de nous se ressemble, on ne sait pas par où partir, mais on sait même plus si on en a envie, tant l’expérience est fascinante, l’ivresse exacerbée par la chaleur étouffante et la beauté du paysage… Puis le silence. Il fait plus frais, le vent est tombé, on n’en a que quelques réminiscences, réverbérées ? Les insectes ressortent de leurs cachettes, une vie semble reprendre son cours, chaque seconde de nouvelles choses semblent s’animer autour de nous, lentement, sans troubler le silence de la nuit qui arrive. Pas un voyage à proprement parler, car il n’y a pas de destination, mais bien une errance, une dérive hallucinatoire, fiévreuse. Si, pour la vivre, il faut que vous y laissiez un pied ou vous faire mordre par un serpent, réfléchissez-y bien.
Grégoire Bressac l Revue & Corrigée l Octobre 2016
One thing you can say about Kevin Drumm is that he’s attentive to set and setting. So while he brings an enormous range of sonic possibility to the table (quite literally – over the 20+ years I’ve seen him play guitar, computer, and assorted electronic hardware, he’s always been seated at a table), he plays what makes sense in whatever situation he finds himself. So anyone looking for storming noise or glacial soundscape might keep looking because this record, recorded in 2011 at the Belgian venue Q-02, will deliver none of that. Radu Malfatti’s the one with the hand on the volume control, which tends towards quiet. The trio plays long tones, fluttering hums and fuzzy transmissions that smudge the space between breath and static, and while the music is not as sparse as Malfatti’s solo work of the current century, it’s pretty low key. You might think that the name of this record is ironic, since their loudness isn’t going to surround anything, but it’s really a very specific direction. The task is the playing; the volume is the space around it, which is illumined like a winter morning fog whose vastness is suggested by the dim glow of lights on a walking path.
Bill Meyer l Dusted l December 2016
Like measuring the inevitability of atmospheric circulation, the three sonic meteorologists here set off to probe the farthest edges of free music while mapping their challenge to convention. The droning, reductionist result is fascinating in some manner, but also mesmerizing in the way a YouTube video of an unfolding accident is riveting. You want to look away, but you remain for the resolution. It’s the same with this CD.
Each of the performers has a history in the creation of non-idiomatic sounds. Chicago-based electronics expert Kevin Drumm has moved from collaborations with the likes of Ken Vandermark and Jim O’Rourke to solo wave form manipulation. Argentine-born, Berlin based Lucio Capece has used bass clarinet and preparations in solo and group situations with Axel Dörner and Burkhard Beins among others. The player with the longest pedigree in experimental music is Austrian trombonist Radu Malffatti, who over a 40-year career has gone from playing with Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath to concentrating on aleatory composition and microtonal improvisation.
First of all to avoid being like Columbus searching for India in a location where it didn’t exist, the listener shouldn’t expect conventional themes or development during the single almost 40½-minute track that is The Volume Surrounding the Task. Most of the sounds are the equivalent of audio chiaroscuro, commingling so that timbre delineation is uncertain. Crackling buzzes and whistles of various speeds, loudness and intensities create machine-generated, solid-state-like juddering pulses, courtesy of Drumm. But the only horn tones that can be confirmed are when Capece lets loose with some bull elephant-like lowing or when Malfatti whooshes unaccented air through his instrument without slide movement. Gurgles and gargles occasionally peep through the droning hum, but respite from infrequent tone crescendos is usually silence not other motifs. Like water-mixed gelatin gradually hardening into a distinct shape, three individual tones perceptively bond during the track’s penultimate 10 minutes. Backward-running tape flanges, basso gurgles and flat-line puffs break through the hypnotic drone only long enough for brief identification. Then like a motor running down the improvisation fades.
No bagatelle for the casual listener, immersion in the tune’s musical logic will reward those willing to comply with its selfsame parameters.
Ken Waxman l JazzWord l November 2016
The Volume Surrounding the Task was recorded live at Q-O2 in Brussels in January 2011 during a tour of France, Belgium and Switzerland by the international trio of Argentine-born Berlin resident Lucio Capece on bass clarinet and preparations, Chicago-based Kevin Drumm on electronics, and Austrian trombonist Radu Malfatti. The music consists of the unbroken title track which lasts over forty minutes and may well have been an entire set.
The three players work well together as a trio, Capece having recorded before with both Malfatti (notably on an album for the Austrian's own B-Boim label), and with Drumm in the quartet that produced the LP Venexia (Pan, 2012). Here, the three sound comfortable in each other's company, their time together on tour being clearly evident. They do not obviously call and respond to one another, instead adopting a more laminal approach with the sounds of the three being carefully overlaid so that they do not mask each other. There is hardly any clutter, and every sound can be clearly heard from its beginning to its end.
The album's signature sound is the ebb and flow of sustained bass clarinet notes, their depth and richness giving human warmth to the soundscape that is very easy to surrender to and luxuriate in. Malfatti's trombone tones are just as prolonged, and effectively fit in with the clarinet; entertainingly, at times when the two are overlaid, they can sound like large sea mammals communicating. In classic eai style, Drumm's electronics underpin and provide a contrast to the acoustic instruments; the boundaries between electronic and acoustic sometimes become blurred, with some sounds even being ambiguous enough to be attributable to any of the three.
Some commentators have suggested that the album has a lack of volume or long periods of quiet—maybe they were triggered by the album title's inclusion of the word "volume." Anyway, such comments are not borne out by the music on the album; crucially, throughout the track at least one of the three is playing at any time, save for just six seconds of silence at around the twelve-minute mark. In common with other recordings, particularly eai, this record can be a chameleon, sounding markedly different on different platforms, especially because different low-frequency responses affect the audibility of the bass clarinet and trombone. But, having been heard on a variety of platforms (including hi-fi, portable CD-player, laptop, iPod, and YouTube—see below) over the course of a month, this recording can be judged a first-rate example of the eai genre. Hope to hear more from this trio in due course.
John Eyles l All About Jazz l July 2016
Let this recording, The Volume Surrounding The Task, be your guide to Buddhist meditation. While the current trend in corporate America (and Europe for that matter) is to foist meditation practices upon employees to gain a competitive advantage, let's head in another direction. CEOs want to sharpen workers' concentration, but minimalist improvisation like this conjured by the trio of Lucio Capece, Kevin Drumm, and Radu Malfatti generates a dreamlike state of distraction. The chimerical illusion of centralization is shattered when this forty minute piece is performed.
Where the players once might have been found in service of the melody, Radu Malfatti's trombone with Barry Guy's London Composer's Orchestra, Chris McGregor's Brotherhood Of Breath, or Joe McPhee, there's tones. Same for Lucio Capece's bass clarinet, which embraces thus ultra-minimalism. Kevin Drumm, a sort of chameleon of sound, can slug it out with the best noise artists, play jazz and rock, and here shift into minimalism.
The trio asks you to become absorbed in woolgathering. Your attention to this live concert from Brussels in 2011 is not prescribed. It waxes and wanes. Near silent breath and simmered notes take you away from the act of listening and into dreams. Is that note from Malfatti's trombone, or Capece's bass clarinet? It doesn't matter. The broth supplies all ingredients for the ear to switch off the brain. The experience fosters repeated spins of the disc, each time a satori occurs. Were those bells? Did that creaking noise come out of the speakers, or is someone in the house? Is my bicycle tire leaking? I'll let you know, I've got to get back inside this meditation.
Mark Corroto l All About Jazz l June 2016
Inasmuch as this 40 minutes piece is characterised by its almost total lack of volume, responsability for the titular task rests largely with hte listener. There's a special kind of effort involved with staying focused on such a yawning absence of incident. Malfatti's trombone lets out long, muffled moans and airy huffs; Capece's bass clarinet swells into ghostly overtones so thin and transparent as to be hardly there at all; and Drumm's electronics suggest the possibility of microscopic chirrup and fizz almost undetectable by the naked ear. Long periods of quiet between each guarded gesture demand an almost Cageian attention to background detail, with the hum of studio electricity offering a supporting drone and the tiny sounds of keys and valves providing their own percussive commentary.
Daniel Spicer l The Wire l July 2016