“Motherboard Pinball” avec Oli Kuster – Cyrill Ferrari – Dee Byrne
Le trio suisse/anglais sort son album Motherboard Pinball sur Efpi Records (FP040).
Oli Kuster – modular synth
Cyrill Ferrari – guitar/banjo
Dee Byrne – alto saxophone/effects
What if we all become cyborgs one day? Part human, part machine. What would our lives be like? What would our worlds look like? These are some of the questions Oli Kuster, Cyrill Ferrari and Dee Byrne ask in their innovative new album Motherboard Pinball, created remotely during the Covid lockdowns of 2020 – an era when humans and machines arguably became closer than ever.
For much of the year, the order for Oli and Cyrill in Bern, Switzerland and for Dee in London, England was to ‘stay at home’. Like so many improvising musicians across the world, the three were forced to find new ways to collaborate and make music together remotely. They managed to find and celebrate freedom through networks; computer networks enabling networks of improvisation, which in turn created networks of imagined inner worlds to explore.
The project began as Oli filled the Covid-induced void (as so many did) with online shopping. Small modular synth modules were delivered to his Bern studio from all corners of the globe, where the jazz pianist soon sank into hours of solo improvisation and experimentation. Oli sent these recordings to Cyrill, similarly isolated in his own studio 10 kilometres away. The guitarist selected individual tracks and improvised on them, before the two sent their files another 1000 kilometres to Dee in London, who also listened and improvised final layers of saxophone and effects.
Reflecting on the music at the end of this process, the three all felt that the numerous wires, electronics, and technologies that enabled this work were woven into their improvisations. The pieces were therefore given futuristic names such as Cyborg Aerobics, Silicon Intersection, or title track Motherboard Pinball, and an epic safari through an imagined digital world began to take shape.
We begin our journey at Silicon Intersection, a busy junction on a sci-fi superhighway where vehicles move chaotically in different directions at high speed, narrowly avoiding collision. Meandering saxophone and restless angular guitar fight each other for space over a busy, pulsating modular synth beat.
Walking the Dogotrons portrays a seemingly familiar suburban scene of families and their pets, although on closer inspection it becomes clear the ‘dogs’ are in fact all robots… The track opens in a fittingly leisurely mood, with a bouncy synth pattern and ascending saxophone lines, but the scrambling guitar gradually asserts itself, disrupting the fragile tonal and rhythmic equilibrium until elements of time and tonality disintegrate.
Transistor Torment is a brief chaotic meeting of three voices – restless, urgent, and vexed – quickly followed by the epic Cyborg Aerobics. Here we are immediately launched into a harsh, alien sound world, where disjointed guitar and saxophone scuffles orbit a relentless, metallic driving beat. Finally we collapse into an exhausted heap – aerobics proves to be a severe workout, even for cyborgs.
The other-worldly Disintegrated Pixel Bluegrass features ephemeral saxophone melodies floating over a
backdrop of a low-key pulsating synth pattern and disembodied tremolo banjo, before the album’s title track Motherboard Pinball sees our intrepid trio bouncing off objects and dodging random pinging obstacles at their peril. We emerge at an edgy industrial scene somewhere deep in our universe for Used Planet Disposal, where the unremitting synth, jarring guitar wails and disturbed saxophone paint a grim picture of giant robots crushing planets with zero emotion. In contrast, The Metaverse Inn Lounge is a place where you can relax – or is it? An uneasy anxiousness fizzes underneath the seemingly calm surface; maybe advisable to down that drink and move on…
Our adventure ends with Requiem for a Red Dwarf, a poignant farewell to a dying star set deep in the universe, where meteorites, space dust, and interplanetary droids occupy our extra-terrestrial sound world – about as far from our locked-down Earth as it is possible to get.