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Buhlmann, Roland: Dubnos

The third album from Roland Buhlmann, Dubnos, is my first encounter with this Swiss ambient instrumentalist where six tracks of medium (six to twelve minutes) length make for an enigmatic voyage through shape, form and feel. Joined by Terl Bryant on Drums and with a guest appearance from David Cross and his violin on one song (“Aaschutz”) and Yukiko Matsuyama and her traditional 7th century Japanese Koto on two (“Dubnos” and “Aaschutz”), Buhlmann investigates a huge number of instruments to unearth a sound that ebbs and flows from track to track while still finding each piece revealing its own identity.

With no vocals we’re left with nuanced sounds to tell these wordless stories and they do so with a real sense of meaning and no little force. And yet, in essence, while there are a few moments across this album where a near riff, or almost accidental groove is encountered, this is restrained fare that feels contained and intimate, while at the same moment coming across as grand in scope and intention. Comparisons are difficult to draw, Robert Fripp whispered about more in the feel of the music than its end product, while the solo work of Kansas man Kerry Livgren could also be seen as a touching point. And yet, while we could hardly say that Dubnos somehow crafts sounds we’ve never encountered before, it does certainly have its own identity.

Patience too is key, the title track a prime example of repetitiveness in structure then being embellished by a host of other little ambient touches. It would be easy therefore to confuse this collection as being synthesised and electronic - and it is, with Aeon Sustainers, Korg MS-20s, Logic Software Synthesizers and electric guitars and bass employed throughout. Yet, with Jackson’s violin and Matsuyama’s Koto joined by the main man himself swishing branches, hitting oil tanks and also crediting himself with using stones, wrenches and a vase to create the sounds offered up, the whole shebang is remarkably organic - “Omnalén” often failing to raise itself above the status of clicks, whooshes and chiming percussion and yet there’s somehow a real progression to these seemingly random sounds.“Aaschutz” on the other hand spends much of its nine-minutes-plus merely readying itself for a gently off kilter jazzy interlude and then some violin that at times melds in perfectly, and at others diverges to equal effect. And so it continues on an album that lulls and jars, and which invites eagerly, while steadfastly refusing to welcome you in.

Track Listing
1. Mighla
2. Dubnos
3. Omnalén
4. Ubiquitous
5. Aaschutz
6. Galgallim

Added: October 9th 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Dubnos on bandcamp
Hits: 555
Language: english

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