ROME HILLS

Yellerwood on CD for the first time with pianist Hubert Bergmann and reedist Udo Schindler. Available for purchase at Mudoks Records. (Artwork: drawing by Yellerwood)

Rome Hills Original 2

Review

Published by Massimo Ricci at Touching Extremes

BERGMANN / YELLERWOOD / SCHINDLER – Rome Hills

Mudoks

Hubert Bergmann: piano; Yellerwood: voice; Udo Schindler: reeds, cornet

This project originates from a pleasurable Roman afternoon spent by yours truly with Hubert Bergmann, who – having known that this writer’s spouse is, in essence, an atypical songwriting specimen – thought that some experimentation using her vocalism would have constituted an intriguing attempt to do something singular. Files of Bergmann’s duets with Udo Schindler were emailed, and in a matter of several months Yellerwood recorded and “assembled” a number of parts, adapting them to three of the thirteen chapters. The result is Rome Hills, a set of on-the-edge yet totally comprehensible acoustic pictures that manage to sound deluxe and/or crazy depending on the moment.

The technical endowments involved are conspicuous, making for gratifying listening even by just considering the merely aesthetic values. But there are unquestionable depths to be probed all over the program. Bergmann and Schindler enrich their dialogue with fluent savoir-faire in “Blinksquint”, a track that sounds bluesier than the actual blues present in the disc (“Final Palestine Blues”, which sees the cornet as a somewhat drunken protagonist). “Dim Minuendoyalp” juxtaposes warrior-like discordant propulsion with aleatory trajectories replete with primeval cries and cultivated sentences. “Piazzazappa” doesn’t recall anything near the namesake Frank as far as I can hear, showing that high speed and clever finickiness can coexist; a coherent obstinacy imbued with a modicum of semi-sociability. “Candle Fright” is out-and-out glorious, Bergmann’s reserved chords creating the grounds for Schindler’s clarinet to wail quietly, surgical precision defining this great execution. The pianist also dedicates a series of Cecil Taylor-esque flurries to Alfred 23 Harth in “Hearth To Play”.

Yellerwood – who idolizes Meredith Monk, feels a spiritual kinship with Amanda Parsons (of Northettes renown) and goes to sleep with Laura Nyro in the iPod – lends gleaming sinewy pitches to a Bergmann poem in “There Is No Panic Room Where Light And Shadows Could”, jumping ranges with flexible authoritativeness to situate the piece inside early 20th century territories. “Smellägood” – a restfully eerie, quasi-lowercase episode – finds her testing the comrades’ silent wisdom via sharp lilliputian vocalizations mutating into elliptical clusters. In the album’s finale “Cathy’s Bardobath Aria” (note: the girl had never heard Mrs. Berberian’s work before, believe it or not) an underworld of sarcastic elves pushes a growingly complicated entanglement of screechy reeds, immoderate pianism and extremist tittle-tattle to ultimate choral pandemonium, an impertinent tuneful signature utilized as a signing-off amidst the stunned “oohs” of those curious creatures. There seems to be no genre restriction to respect when open-minded artists decide to produce stimuli for everybody’s ears, and they really mean it.

Review

Published in German on Bad Alchemy by Rigobert Dittmann and kindly translated into English by the author.

BERGMANN / YELLERWOOD / SCHINDLER – Rome Hills (Mudoks, mr 1181-015)

How to describe the duets of Hubert Bergmann and Udo Schindler? As amazing diminuendos and crescendos in yellow? As capriccios run through by gnomes so swift that you miss them if you blink? But in ‘Escursionisti Trottoiritum’ they whizz and pitter-patter around right in front of your nose. Schindler there has already switched from squawking saxophone to a constrained cornet, that he also blows, as if nearly strangled, in ‘Final Palestine Blues’, that, even more gloomy as the eery and shrill ‘Candle Fright’, transfers you into Piranesian Carceri. In ‘Hearth To Play (Ded. to A23H)’ Bergmann alone virtuously pulls all the stops of a striking piano treatise, that he has dedicated to Seoul brother Alfred Harth, unrolling with convulsive-constructivist paradoxes, that old Mannerist Ariadne’s threads guide through the mazes and hallways of Postmodernity. Already behind the punning surface of ‘Creak-Knom’, ‘Dim Minuendoyelp’, ‘Grotta Grotesko Odo’, and ‘Piazzazappa’ that thinking-out-of- the-box and combining of light and shadow is will-o’-the-wisping about, that Gustav Réne Hocke has praised as ‘Concettismo’. Which takes us nearly to Rome, or nearly to Joyce, but definitely to Yellerwood. Massimo Ricci’s companion bestows three of the pieces with an especially capricious spice. By presenting Bergmann’s poem ‘Wo Licht und Schatten sich balgen’ as sprechgesang à la „Pierrot Lunaire“. And by kekkering, cooing, and caroling ‘Smellägood’ and ‘Cathy’s Bardobath Aria’, as if she had John Cage’s ‘Aria (Fontana Mix)’ or even Cathy Barberian’s ‘Stripsody’ in her ear, as a looney-tuney kick. Bergmann accompanies that by rumbling in the piano’s stomach, Schindler is puffing and vocalizing around the mouthpiece… Oomoo Poost ya the burning bush a=20=20 comedy, the cowed ….. gru glan knytjæ blikm køya blikmadnkhl luxg ukadnkita knytjobjik blø dnl …..

SPINNING ANGEL

Yellerwood’s debut single Spinning Angel is available for download at CD Baby, Amazon, iTunes and other online distributors.

Review by Tim Hunter (ProgYes Radio):

Yellerwood : ‘Spinning Angel’ single

Reminiscent of Kate Bush, this is a fabulously haunting jazz-fusion style song. If only this could get into the charts, it would restore my faith in modern music. I look forward to more material from this artist on I-tunes and You Tube.

Yellerwood is influenced and inspired by the music of a number of jazz fusion and avant garde artists including Allan Holdsworth (in fact she has an excellent cover of ‘All Our Yesterdays’ on You Tube), Meredith Monk, Amanda Parsons (Hatfield & The North, National Health), Stella Vander (Magma, Offering), Jack Bruce, Frank Zappa, Laura Nyro.

This is a reminder that ‘prog’ always had an avant garde side to it, which somehow seems to be forgotten these days, certainly in the UK. This is an admirable musical direction to take. In fact it reminds me, I really must play more of this important part of the prog world (perhaps even Henry Cow and Kevin Ayers) on ProgYes.

Devotion to such eclectic influences should ensure Yellerwood is in excellent position to gain wider attention, as so many contemporary ‘prog’ artists seem unwilling to move outside their musical comfort zones.

ProgYes Rating 8/10

This single is now on the daytime playlist and will be featured on a forthcoming ProgYes show.