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Paris Transatlantic Winter 2011 Issue
by John Eyles

At first glance, the two latest additions to the catalogue of Lisbon-based Dromos Records are barely recognisable as CDs. Guitarist Olaf Rupp's AuldLangSyne is housed in a large irregular hexagonal sleeve with a front cover painting by Antonio Poppe and leather back cover, and each copy includes a different Poppe engraving. Access to contents is via a slit in the leather just long enough to get a CD through. Schatten, by pianist Magda Mayas and cellist Anthea Caddy, comes in a tactile rich blue membrane made of ink skin designed by Nádia Duvall. And Rupp, Mayas and Caddy ensure the quality of the music is commensurate with its packaging. (...)

Schatten was recorded at Amann Studios, Vienna, in March 2010. Pianist Magda Mayas is such a strong individual stylist that it sometimes feels as if she's dominating her playing partners (as was the case on the recent Great Waitress album Lucid (Splitrec) with accordionist Monika Brooks and clarinettist Laura Altman), but with cellist Anthea Caddy it's a partnership of well-matched equals. As always, Mayas plays the whole instrument, producing sounds that are recognisably piano along with others made by banging and scraping the frame or the strings. In similar fashion, Caddy produces an impressive array of sounds from the deepest darkest arco tones to high pitched screeches. Both musicians are adept at adjusting and evolving pitch, tempo and timbre, sometimes contrasting completely with one another, sometimes both going in the same direction, as in the ominously dark and moody rumblings halfway through the opening track. The recording quality is first rate, and, clocking in at just over 38 minutes, Schatten delivers quality over quantity, and passes the key test of a good album, it leaves you hungry for more.

Improv Sphere
by Julien Héraud

Spécialisé dans les musiques improvisées, Dromos est un label portugais original qui propose à un artiste plasticien différent à chaque publication de créer les "pochettes" comme il l'entend. Les deux dernières, à l'occasion de la sortie d'un duo de Magda Mayas et Anthea Caddy et d'un solo d'Olaf Rupp, toutes uniques et différentes, sont composées de matériaux divers comme des morceaux de cuir ou une membrane d'encre de Chine par exemple. Pour les curieux, différents modèles ainsi que des extraits musicaux sont accessibles sur le site de Dromos.

Anthea Caddy/Magda Mayas - Schatten (Dromos, 2011)

Outre la singularité des "boîtiers", Dromos publie également des enregistrements atypiques et originaux. Schatten par exemple regroupe trois improvisations de la violoncelliste Anthea Caddy et de la pianiste désormais célèbre Magda Mayas, livrées dans une création aux aspects bruts et rugueux de Nádia Duvall. Trois pièces donc où se superposent des textures nouvelles et des timbres originaux, la palette de sons est très large et forme comme une série de tableaux sonores minimalistes où se succèdent des couleurs qui diffèrent selon la dynamique. La plupart du temps, on reconnaît encore les instruments, mais la fusion est quand même si bien réussie entre les deux musiciennes qu'on a du mal à simplement souhaiter les distinguer. En fait, la distinction est possible dans la mesure où le duo Caddy/Mayas fusionne uniquement au niveau de la dynamique, tout en produisant des textures différentes, ou même opposées. Trois pièces denses et riches, aux couleurs singulières et atypiques d'où surgissent toujours des dynamiques communes malgré l'opposition de timbres et de modes de jeu (ostinato contre bourdon, rythmique contre lisse, bruits contre notes). Il n'y a rien de révolutionnaire dans cette approche dynamique de l'interaction entre les musiciens, mais Schatten vaut tout de même le coup pour l'objet qu'il constitue d'une part, et surtout je pense pour l'originalité des textures, mais également pour l'intensité, la précision, et la sensibilité de l'interaction entre les deux musiciennes.

Le son du grisli
by Guillaume Belhomme

L'ombre (Schatten) portée de Magda Mayas et d'Anthea Caddy adopte la forme d'un appareil à sons irrités : ses cordes tremblent sous les frottements, sa caisse de résonance laisse flotter en elle des râles, son bois respire au son de notes fines et allongées. A la fin, les effets de perturbations dansent sur grincements : c'est là qu'arrive Schatten, là que Mayas et Caddy voulaient en venir.

Magda Mayas, Anthea Cady : Schatten (Dromos)
Edition : 2011.
CD-R : 01/ Lucidity 02/ In the Shadows Lay 03/ Shatter

The Free Jazz Collective
10 December 2011
by Stef Gijssels

The first thing that strikes you with this album is the unusual artwork by Nádia Duvall, with all 250 covers being handmade of crepe paper and wax, a combination of different materials, light and heavy, light and dark, and somewhat unpredictable and fragile, all illustrating the nature of the music quite well. Schatten brings the interplay between Mayas on piano and Anthea Caddy on cello, offering a similar minimalist approach, yet somewhat darker and ominous, with heavier sounds and more percussive effects, which creates a totally different dynamic to the music. The sonic textures are all about timbre and space and interaction, and even if at moments it is hard to identify what or who the source is of the sounds you hear, the result is quite captivating.

The Watchful Ear
15 December 2011
by Richard Pinnell

If I am honest I am not really in the mood for writing about music tonight, but as Julie is staying with her Mum for now after their loss I have little to do here other than try and get on with things, and so I have listened a few times to a nice new CD on the Portugese Dromos label by the Berlin improvisational duo of Magda Mayas (piano) and Anthea Caddy (cello). Dromos releases have always arrived in innovative packaging, but this one might be my favourite yet, with each of the 250 copies being packed in handmade splodges of blue crépe paper and wax, each one individual and somehow simultaneously very ugly and quite beautiful. The disc within contains three beautifully recorded studio tracks of dense textural improvisation. The general feel is one that falls neatly midway between the various poles of improvisation?s current trends. It is always very active and energetic, perhaps even aggressively so here and there, but while silence plays little to no part in the music it also doesn?t feel unnecessarily chattery. The thickness of the sound, which is all acoustically created, is down to the way the musicians work here to build looming clouds of sound rather than itchy, scratchy conversations. Mayas? playing is more percussive than melodic, working in and around the body of the prepared instrument as well as bowing, tapping and plucking at the strings. Often her sound is deeply resonant. Rolling, booming shudders of low register sound match lighter plucks and tones moment for moment. Caddy?s cello varies in intensity as well, often flourishing into extremely wild, wrenching sections of bowing match up to Mayas? more violently hammering moments just as the delicacy the cello also comes through at other times.

The album is named Schatten, which translates (I think) to Shade- a quite fitting title given the frequently dark, claustrophobic feeling to the music. The musicianship involved here, highlighted in the way the two instruments feed off of one another and respond to one another rather than merely sit adjacent underlines the improvised music traditions at work here, but this CD stands for me as another good example of a currently very interesting area in improv right now- music that focusses texture and carefully chosen sounds but often does so in a talkative, far from reductionist manner, with every sound mattering, nothing there without good reason but also with no fear of making openly expressive music. The heaving, muscular interchanges of bowed strings and thunderous hammering piano that rise up throughout In the shadows lay, the second track here are particularly wonderful, stirring up this old listener for sure, making the hairs stand on end as the music almost abuses the careful listener.

The mix of the delicate and fragile with the dense and heavy is reflected in the CD?s packaging as the thin whispering crepe paper is enveloped in the thick, gloopy wax. That sensation of some kind of oppressive force weighing down on the music, pushing it away from the simply tasteful and into more uncomfortable, yet ultimately rewarding areas remain present throughout what is a really very engaging album indeed. At times this music gets extremely urgent, even angrily so here and there, and right now I can empathise with such an approach. Listening here tonight, letting the urgency of the music unravel around me in an almost violent way felt a little cathartic. For all the beauty of life and the people we meet along the way there are always dark, uncomfortable moments, and sometimes music helps us sort such occasions out. A very fine album then, available here.