Arnold Dreyblatt / Paul Panhuysen - Duo Geloso Music Album Reviews

Arnold Dreyblatt / Paul Panhuysen - Duo Geloso Music Album Reviews
Performing live in 1987, the avant-garde composers extracted complexity from simple designs and novel instrumentation. A new release captures their meditative and playful collaboration.

In December 1987, avant-garde composers Arnold Dreyblatt and Paul Panhuysen performed six original pieces at the Eindhoven, Netherlands experimental space Het Apollohuis. They had spent the previous several weeks extensively workshopping instrumentation and techniques at the art house, co-founded by Panhuysen seven years earlier. The resulting concert was recorded, and now, nearly 35 years later, the duo’s inquisitive creations re-emerge via Oren Ambarchi’s Black Truffle label. Duo Geloso is the first release that details the Dreyblatt-Panhuysen collaborative mind, sitting comfortably within a current experimental context despite its age.

In the 1980s, the American and the Dutch experimental artists bonded over a shared interest in challenging conventional conceptions of classical music. Dreyblatt frequently visited Het Apollohuis while based in Berlin, allowing a mutual admiration to develop into an eventual partnership. Their personal approaches varied: Dreyblatt tended to take fewer musical risks, while Panhuysen was inspired by spontaneity. Their complementary styles resulted in projects with straightforward foundations and exuberant quirks. They called themselves Duo Geloso, after the brand of Italian loudspeakers they used when performing.

The performance captured on Duo Geloso uses alternative versions of traditional instruments to produce a sense of unsettling familiarity. In the relentless opener “Razorburg,” the artists apply motorized picks and the still-novel EBow to rattling detuned electric guitar and bass, forming a slow evolution that indulges both stagnancy and motion. The primary instrument for “Synsonic Batterie” is a Synsonics Drum Machine manufactured by toy company Mattel; the track begins with a steady, muffled beat that quickly devolves as the hits begin to stagger and lose their footing. With concentration it’s possible to track a pulse throughout, but sudden sharp snare-like hits and round rippling kicks throw the ear off balance. Dreyblatt enters with insistent hits on a pedal steel guitar, and Panhuysen brings in a hiccuping bird whistle. The guitar climbs in pitch and the bird whistle becomes desperate, screeching as if being tortured until it dies out. It feels both evocative and nonsensical.

With each track, Dreyblatt and Panhuysen extract a multitude of complexity from relatively simple designs. The duo always establishes a degree of steadiness in the beginning, then introduces subtle, consistent alterations to create a sense of meditative misalignment. The deceptively understated standout “High Life,” a 10-minute drone performed on various string instruments, embodies this approach. One note anchors the piece—an E—but from it blossom bristling branches of overtones, harmonics, and diatonic and non-diatonic pitches. At a certain point, dissonance takes over only to fade away. The piece ends with the release of the lower register, leaving only overtones and harmonics lingering within the walls of Het Apollohuis.

With its contemporary release, Duo Geloso now exists against the contextual padding of nearly four decades of artistic experimentation. Motorized picks, EBows, and electronic drum machines do not carry the same novelty they once did; avant-garde composition, no longer confined to niche artistic spaces, has entered the academy. “I was actually surprised that the recordings had ‘aged’ well with time,” Dreyblatt reflected recently. “Perhaps the interest in these recordings is possible now that the musical universe has been so radically changed and widened!” These days we might imagine the expansive wanderlust of “The Louisiana Purchase” and Panhuysen’s echoing vocals on “Love Call” soundtracking an AI-generated art exhibit. The boundaries of classical convention exist to be tested, and decades on, Dreyblatt and Panhuysen’s earnest inventions for Het Apollohuis convey a sense of playful curiosity that feels unexpired.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

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Arnold Dreyblatt / Paul Panhuysen - Duo Geloso Music Album Reviews Arnold Dreyblatt / Paul Panhuysen - Duo Geloso Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on September 01, 2022 Rating: 5


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