Werner Durand – Schwingende Luftsaulen (Vibrating Air Columns) (2017)
Within the narratives of experimental practice, Werner Durand is not as well known as he should be. A composer and collaborator, as much as an instrument builder, he has been sculpting a singular and unmatched territory of sound for decades, bridging countless compositional approaches, while resting comfortably in none.
Durand studied with Ariel Kalma, before expanding toward Indian Classical music with Kamalesh Maitra, and the Iranian Ney with Ali Reza Asgharia – a distinguished and unique pedigree, which offers insights into the hybridity within his music. He entered the fold during the late 70’s, first within Gilbert Artman’s Urban Sax project – a roving effort in environmental drone, and Arnold Dreyblatt’s ensembles, before begin embarking on his own body of work and further collaborations with David Moss, David Berman, Henning Christiansen, David Toop, Catherine Christer Hennix, and a diverse range of others. His latest release, Schwingende Luftsaulen (Vibrating Air Columns), recorded between Fall 2010 and Spring 2011, now released by the Italian experimental imprint ANTS, builds on a large arc of developing practice, and is nothing short of a brilliant sonic gem.
Werner Durand’s efforts amount to a melding hybrid, drawing on a life spent listening, while building and performing on an extensive range of his own instruments, which began during the early 80’s. One such case is the Pan-Ney, an instrument that he invented in 1984 and features as the sole sound source for the recordings which make up Schwingende Luftsäulen (Vibrating Air Columns). Unsurprisingly, with so many years of work behind it, the album is a bristling, tense, hypnotic Minimalist wonder, built on breath which darts toward the ancient world and back to the harmonic interplay and structures of the avant-garde. Dedicated to Tony Conrad, whose Ten Years Alive On The Infinite Plane, from 1972, inspired its tuning, it’s an album steeped in profound honesty and incredible resonant interplay, as challenging as incredibly beautiful, conceived responsively to the properties of the air passing thru the plastic tubes that make up the Pan-Ney.
Schwingende Luftsäulen (Vibrating Air Columns), is the kind of reckoning which I love to see come to my life – a moment which forces the recognition of a great artist in our midst, long overdue in receiving the attention he rightfully deserves. A stunning record, and highly recommended. I only wish it had been given an LP issue, rather than being limited to CD. It deserves it. You can check out some samples below, and pick it up from ANTS, SoundOhm, or a record store near you.
Werner Durand – Schwingungsknoten from Schwingende Luftsaulen (Vibrating Air Columns) (2017)
Werner Durand – Stehende Wellen 1 from Schwingende Luftsaulen (Vibrating Air Columns) (2017)