Published Sep 23, 2016The psychoacoustic clarinet duo of Michael Theike and Kai Fagaschinski have been co-creating music of breadth and depth since 2000. Their rapport is palpable, the way they blend their sounds, hypnotic. From muted hums to whispered rasps, they alternately background and foreground one another in a seamless interchange of focus and intensities.
On The Power of Negative Thinking, the International Nothing is joined by "something" in bassist Christian Weber and drummer/percussionist Eric Schaefer, who add dimensions of timbre and rhythm to the woodwinds' mesmerizing sounds.
"We Can Name You Their Names" is nine minutes of stunning range. Opening with barely audible single tones and breath-like cymbal rolls, a spare four-note bass motif enters, while the reeds play unisons that shift microtonally in and out of tune. A simple melody is interspersed with harmonies and multiphonics before a dramatic shift comes in the form of bass and drums taking over. Then, there's a shattering entrance of super-high clarinet pitches, searingly intense, that stop suddenly, yielding to what sounds like two clarinets melting into one another over a bass/drum figure.
Overall, there is a Morton Feldman-esque minimal, restful calmness that pervades The Power of Negative Thinking. "Long Bow Glowing" is quiet, sparse and full of spaces, as long tones, microtones, beat frequencies and multiphonics appear and disappear. There isn't any development, just self-propelled change. Relaxing and warm, "Nothing's Gonna Last Forever," the album's last track, is meditative and sweet-natured.
What has characterized the International Nothing's music throughout much of their work is haunting beauty. On The Power of Negative Thinking's seven pieces, they (… and something) have it in spades. (Monotype Records)