jonas kocher: accordion, objects

1. solo mp3

Download the complete album in .zip. (35min48 / 320kbps mp3 / 84Mo)

CD, screenprinted, 18x14cm, in thin sleeve, Sold out.

Recorded october 23rd 2010 at ‘zoom in’ Festival Bern. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Fabio Oehrli, Tonlabor.

Whereas his earlier solo record, « materials », was the result of a research work in studio, « solo » shows how Jonas Kocher brillantly uses his accordion in concert. His music caries in itself huge contrasts, between reserve and explosion, as if this dualitly was engraved in the back and forth bellows’s mouvement. Alternations of low and high frequencies, slappings and breaths build a perfectly controlled form inside the improvised frame.

Accordionist dedicated to improvisation, Jonas Kocher collaborates regularly with musicians such Michel Doneda, Christian Wolfarth, Christoph Schiller, Olivier Toulemonde, Alfredo Costa Monteiro, Luca Venitucci, Joke Lanz, d’incise, Jacques Demierre, Christian Kesten, Gaudenz Badrutt, Christian Müller, … . Jonas Kocher’s work explores the relationships between tone, noise and silence and the processus of listening. As composer he realises projects which are situated between composed theater, installation and concert pieces. His compositions has been played at Biennale Bern 2010, Theater Basel, Zentrum Paul Klee, Festival Encuentros Buenos Aires, KlangKunstBühne Berlin, Centre Dürrenmatt Neuchâtel, Festival Concentus Moravie, Zagreb Biennale. He composes also for hörspiel and theater.


I’ve never been a big fan of the accordion when played ‘properly’ in folk music or similar- I just don’t like that wheezing, grating whine they make. The role of the accordion in this tiny end of music we follow here though is quite different, and there is a surprisingly strong tradition of the instrument in improvised music, with names like Alfredo Costa Monteiro and Luca Venitucci springing immediately to mind. Once you find a new set of sounds for the instrument though, as Kocher does here, you then have to do something with them, and the danger for any improvised solo release, on any instrument, but particularly one with the inbuilt limitations of the accordion, is that technique and the search for interesting sounds can take precedent over interesting musical content. Kocher, much to his credit, avoids this trap on this release, his second solo disc, named, simply Solo.
Amongst the mountains of as-yet-unheard CDs I have sat here there is a copy of Kocher’s first solo, named Materials and released a couple of years back on Creative Sources. While I am ashamed to admit that I haven’t heard it yet, when I recently read Simon Reynell’s brief interview with Kocher it was noted that he also used electronics to augment the sound of the accordion on that release. This new disc dispenses with the electronics, so limiting Kocher’s materials, but perhaps bringing focus and simplicity to the music. Certainly these elements shine through for me on Solo. There is just the one track here, lasting thirty-five minutes in its entirety, though it does flick through a succession of clear ‘sections’ that might easily have been separated to form different tracks. The first thing that hits me about the music is the sense of control and restraint placed upon it. In general, the music is very quiet and contemplative, made up of many carefully held sounds, sometimes tonal, often hissing, murmuring and vaguely electronic sounding. In the same interview, and also coincidentally in my review of ///grape skin, the sounds Kocher makes do resemble electronics in places. Sometimes what we hear is clearly a wind instrument, as we hear puffs and bellows and escaping air often, but also there are tiny pattering sounds, perfectly clean sinewave-like tones and scribbled bits of abstraction that sound like anything but an accordion. There’s a wonderful moment in the piece that sort of signals the start of an imaginary ‘track two’ for me when, after a period of low rumbles and groaning something strikes a metallic part of the accordion, creating a momentary ping, out of which a series of high pitched notes appear, a complete shift from what had come before but the perfect answer to the percussive strike.
The aspect of this CD that I like a lot is the sense of restraint and careful placement of sounds into silences that follows right through it. Any temptation to take the longer track format and build the music up into a more noisy, busy beast is ignored, and if anything the piece becomes more sparse and the sounds used feel more considered and carefully chosen as it goes by. With three minutes of the track remaining everything has dissolved down to the thinnest of high tones slithering past, disappearing into several seconds of charged silence before the next appears, seemingly quieter, yet still impactful and full of presence.
Kocher seems to really meditate on the potential of his instrument, but also there is a sense of real purity to this music, as if, having cast aside the electronics Kocher has undertaken a path of really understanding his instrument, finding a voice with it that can truly project his feelings, worrying less about twisting sounds into new forms and instead just working to find expression with a limited, but very subtle sound palette. Far from being a catalogue of techniques, Solo feels thoroughly human. As the abstract expressionists stripped own their tools so as to work with direct, emotive images that shouted little but whispered a great deal, so Kocher seems to follow a similar course here. This is a fine thirty-five minutes of music by a less familiar name released on a small, untrendy but fine label with a great track record. What’s more, as well as being available as a CD in a very nice oversized card sleeve it is also free to download from here. Take a listen, and if you enjoy it I recommend picking up the hard copy and supporting this fine little operation.
Richard Pinnel / the watchful ear

Solo accordion, that is, a form I’m admittedly partial to and Kocher, who I don’t think I’ve previously heard (someone will prove me wrong, no doubt) delivers admirably. What comes through more than anything else is a deep love of the instrument and the huge variety of sounds of which it’s capable. A live set, Kocher is very patient, using a great deal of space, his choice of sounds running much of the gamut from virtually inaudible to full-throated squeeze-boxiana. The set sounds only loosely organized, as though Kocher is taking some delight in discovering the sounds as he happens on them, worrying less about the overall structure which nonetheless coalesces very nicely and naturally. There’s an especially beautiful high drone portion about 20 minutes in that I could have happily listened to for a long time. Difficult to describe otherwise; not as extreme as Costa Monteiro on the same instrument but well to the left of Klucevsek et. al. A fine recording–don’t let it slip under your radar.
Brian Olewnick / just outside

Handsomely packaged in an 18×14, screen-printed thin card sleeve, this absorbing and focussed thirty-five minutes of solo accordion begins from a quiet place, distant church bells (possibly a field recording?) gradually disappearing under the wheeze and whoosh of Kocher’s ‘breathing’ effects. Not until four minutes in does a recognizable note emerge from the instrument – low, growling, rumbling, somewhat reminiscent of the contrabass clarinet that Anthony Braxton whips out on occasion – and it’s around these frequencies that things hover for a while. Throughout, one really gets the sense of the accordion as a physically responsive thing, full of fluttering air, clicking and clacking keys, sometimes surprisingly similar to a voice (due precisely to the reliance on air to create sound). From the picture below it appears that Kocher treats the instrument to various preparations and ‘non-standard’ attacks, but, much of the time, it would seem that he’s managed to get ‘inside’ the accordion to the extent that he can bend it to his will, away from its traditional harmonic ties and generic markers, simply by playing it in conventional fashion.
In the resonant concert space, Kocher doesn’t go for easy drones, but lets the extended dying echoes of each note ring out dramatically into pregnant pauses, cut-off clicks and hoarse interjections. His sparing use of register and space – we don’t, for example, really hear any high notes until eighteen minutes in, when the striking of a piece of chiming metal percussion ‘sparks off’ ringing, twinkling, near-whistle frequencies not too far away from Sachiko M territory – gives the piece immense contemplative force, unpredictable yet content to take its time. One senses that Kocher is deliberately surprising himself as much as the audience – twenty-six minutes in, having settled into an off-kilter rhythm like the click-clack of train on tracks (territory which could easily have been explored for a further length of time), he suddenly stops, lets hang a short silence, briefly launches into a new wheeze (somehow managing to approximate the sound of a saw cutting through wood), then stops again and plays some conventional notes. In description, that sounds a bit programmatic, even schematic – in the moment that one hears it, though, it comes across as a fine example of improvisational quick-thinking. Perhaps Kocher knew exactly what he was going to do when he launched into his emergency stop – perhaps it was a calculated move, made for dramatic effect (and there would be nothing wrong with that) – but, for me, it seems to carry with it an element of risk (what if the next note or tone after the silence came across as corny, jarring, ugly?): an edge that gives the whole performance a pleasing sense of vitality and importance. Aptly, it all ends without warning, glacially eerie tones giving way to grinding growls whose seemingly inexorable, lumbering progress is cut off as if a switch had been flicked: almost brutal, certainly honest, well in keeping with the music’s spirit of invention and discovery. There is no coasting here.
David Grundy

Après un premier disque nourri de recherches musicales en studio, Jonas Kocher présente un second album en solo qui documente son travail d’improvisateur en situation de concert. L’artiste biennois met en valeur ses riches connexions avec le monde du théâtre, des installations et de la performance, et brille aussi par sa maîtrise d’une palette de techniques instrumentales étendues. L’accordéon est ici plus qu’un instrument et une caisse de résonance: c’est un véhicule piloté avec une amplitude maximale. De microparticules sonores en résonances graves et suraiguës, de circulations hypnotiques en éclats métalliques, la composition proposées par Jonas Kocher explore en 35 minutes les relations complexes qui sont à la base d’une oeuvre improvisées. Le sens affûté de propos musical et l’attention constante à la construction d’une forme font le reste, à savoir une musique exploratoire qui force l’écoute en imposant une tension et un équilibre de tous les instants.
Christian Steulet / Le Courrier

Troisième CD publié par le netlabel Insubordinations, ce Solo de Jonas Kocher (que l’on peut également entendre sur ///grape skin aux côtés de Doneda) est un enregistrement live d’une pièce de 35 minutes pour accordéon. Une musique faite d’urgence et de contemplation, d’oppositions duales et de superpositions, une musique intense qui explore un instrument plutôt rare (dans la musique improvisée) mais pourtant extrêmement riche, comme le musicien suisse nous le démontre.
Tout commence par le souffle, fondement de l’accordéon et de la vie (animale du moins), Kocher active donc ses soufflets sans émettre de notes, il fait vivre son instrument et amène doucement l’auditeur à pénétrer ce timbre si particulier; simultanément, l’instrumentiste fusionne organiquement avec son instrument. Après les soubassements viennent les graves, imposants, oppressants et menaçants, mais toujours vivants car Kocher ne cesse de les moduler en courts glissandos non chromatiques, puis de les superposer de manière atonale en légers clusters contrebalancés par des souffles et des bruits étranges. Et enfin viennent les aigus puis les suraigus, aucune fonction mélodique, ils ne sont là que pour s’opposer et se contrebalancer aux lourdes nappes formées par la texture basse de l’instrument. Ce jeu d’oppositions (silences/clusters, longues nappes/courte note répétée, aigu/grave, etc.), de superpositions et d’agencements forme une architecture rigoureuse constituée de nappes et de phases qui s’équilibrent toujours très bien.
Et le résultat de cette architecture particulièrement riche est l’exposition de la complexité et de l’étendue de l’accordéon dans sa dimension timbrale. Des soufflets au clavier, en passant bien évidemment par l’ambitus et la juxtaposition, Kocher explore talentueusement et intelligemment toute la richesse de son instrument. Et cette exploration est contrastée, profonde, riche, en timbres et en textures sonores comme en émotions, car les nappes peuvent être aussi apaisantes et détendues qu’oppressantes et terrifiantes. Les contrastes et les oppositions jouent aussi bien au niveau musical qu’émotionnel, ces deux aspects étant ici intimement et inextricablement liés. La richesse de l’exploration atteint ainsi la complexité des affects du musicien comme des auditeurs. En gros, ce Solo est une pièce véritablement intense, riche et profonde, aussi bien du point de vue instrumental qu’affectif. Recommandé!
julien Heraud/ Improv Sphere

Au souffle sporadique … ce souffle, ce soupir, cette aspiration.. comme pour mieux s’approprier le moment. L’avaler, pour le conserver en soi comme une trace, une marque. Musique faite d’urgence et de contemplation, d’oppositions duales et de superpositions, se rejoignent jeu percussif et aspérités discrètes , errances veloutées et rage martiale. Derrière ce jeu, les éléments apparaissent lentement et imperceptiblement. Délicieusement indolente, cette complainte joue avec le silence, tout comme la rêverie. On aime cette invitation mélancolique et forestière qui nous laisse sans possibilité de retour.
Laurent Guerel / Essmaa

C’est en concert à Berne que l’accordéoniste Jonas Kocher a enregistré ce Solo. Son jeu est expérimental, c’est évident. L’air est compressé, il ricoche dans le soufflet et a parfois de ces airs de geysers qui crache.
L’orgue de Kocher est de petite taille. Mais lorsqu’il décide de s’arrêter sur une note, il la pousse avec puissance. Le vent la porte loin, il en est ainsi pour toutes les notes qui réussissent à sortir de l’appareil. Mais la soufflerie n’est pas là pour accoucher d’une souris mélodique, encore moins populaire. Parce que Kocher s’approprie cet isntrument, son instrument, comme s’il l’avait inventé : son clavier est raccourci, ses possibilités sont réduites, mais la chanson qu’il chante est d’une ouverture bien supérieure.
héctor cabrero / le son du grisli

Sous une pochette noir et blanc en carton format portefeuille se cache un solo d’accordéon de 35 minutes qui rappelle beaucoup le travail d’Alfredo Costa Monteiro, soit une déconstruction totale du jeu et du rôle de l’accordéon – l’instrument ramené à un souffle et des cliquetis (j’exagère à peine). Et beaucoup de silence et de concentration muette. Écoute aride mais étonnamment prenante. Audacieux et convaincant.
Under a wallet-sized black and white cardboard sleeve hides a 35-minute accordion solo strongly reminiscent of Alfredo Costa Monteiro’s work, i.e. a total deconstruction of the playing and role of the accordion. The instrument is torn down to a breath and clicks (I’m barely exaggerating). And lots of silence and mute concentration. A demanding but surprisingly taking listen. Bold and convincing.
François Couture / monsieur délire

Manipulations – Retournements – Aller au bout de quelque chose – Épuiser tout les possibles d’un instrument, du temps, du son – L’idée d’une certaine maîtrise qui serait présente depuis (quelque chose comme) la découverte du son par l’homme – Le truc est que ça reste une problématique encore aujourd’hui – ouais, vous comprenez de quoi je parle…. Toute chose se partage, se propage et se transmet – Entendre, recevoir, une idée c’est d’une certaine manière la toucher soi-même. C’est ce qui est magnifique dans l’art et de terrible sans lui. ((((((((((méditatif))))))))))
Manipulations – Reversals – Go at the end of few thing – Exhaust all the possibles of : instrument, time, sound – The idea of a certain control who would be present, since (something like) the discovery of the sound by man- The trick is, that it’s still a problem today – Yes, you know what I mean… All things are be shared, spread and transmitted – Hear, receive, an idea is a way to touch it yourself. It’s what is beautiful in art and terrible without it. ((((((((((Meditative)))))))))
Darby’s chronics

Using only his main musical instrument (and objects in addition to it), however, his sound is actually much more than just an instance of the squiffer-based sound as general. By its main characteristics it is rather an electro-acoustic outtake where silence is hybridized or variegated with loader (drone) tones and brooding sometimes even threatening progressions coming from one phase to over another one. Indeed, it is not an accidental arty-farty spasmic set instead offering carefully treated phenomena which makes much impression and sense.
Kert Semm / Recent music heroes

One piece, that lasts more or less thirty five minutes, and its quite a demanding piece of music. Kocher plays the entire instrument, not just regular, but also the bellow, the knobs, the keys etc. Quite expertly he plays out both the low end and the high end of the instrument, and cleverly uses the dynamics of loud versus soft. There are times when you almost hear nothing, and then there are overwhelmingly loud bits. As said quite demanding. There is obviously a difference between the stage and the CD. If you don’t see what’s happening, you may loose your attention after a while, which I must admit happened to me at times here. Unlike his pre vious release ‘Materials’, this is all less drone based and more in an open collage like style played. Best enjoyed, I guess, when played with absolutely no distraction of any kind, fully concentrated on the work itself, and, when finished, I guess, its best not to do anything for a while. Take a rest and let it all slip in. Then the beauty of it can be enjoyed best.
FdW / Vital Weekly

Album nazvané jednoduše Solo obsahuje jediný kus, který i te(m zkušene(jším posluchac(u*m dozajista posune pr(edstavy o výrazových možnostech tohoto nástroje. Kocher zde na pu*dorysu pe(tatr(iceti minut s úžasnou citlivostí pracuje s rozlic(nými ruchovými prvky a s tóny pr(edevším v extrémních polohách i barvách a c(lení je pec(live( volenými dávkami dramatického ticha. Soustr(ede(nost protagonisty na každý zvukový detail je snadno nakažlivá i na posluchac(e, který se pak už jen mu*že nechat okouzlovat prome(nlivými šumy pouze « naprázdno » dýchajícího akordeonu, sofistikovanými ruchy tvor(enými na povrchu nástroje i s pomocí ru*zných objektu*, a osobitými tónovými kombinacemi bližšími možná spíše estetice analogové elektronické hudby. Pr(edevším bohatá škála ru*zne( vrnících a bruc(ících pedálových tónu* snadno uvízne v pame(ti. Zvláštní zážitek pr(ináší také sledování c(asového c(lene(ní. Rychlejší kombinace kontrastních poloh pr(icházejí stejne( pr(ekvapive( jako zac(átky a konce delších táhlých úseku*. Katarzí pu*lhodinové meditace je potom záve(rec(ná plocha hédonicky vrstvící ru*zné možnosti basového rejstr(íku. Tento vysoce estetický zážitek si mu*že dopr(át každý, kdo si album stáhne zdarma zde.
Jan Faix /

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