Pressestimmen Whispering Blue

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Presseauszug / by Nils Jacobson
Joachim Gies, one of today’s most creative exponents of “other” saxophone music….

Gies‘ vision for the extended saxophone yields intensely personal yet refreshingly delicate results. …

He plays mostly alto and tenor, though certain tracks make use of other paraphernalia such as hoses, mutes, a trombone mouthpiece, and the dreaded overdub (on only four tracks, and coherent with the overall flow). His saxophone playing has an airy, ethereal quality, as he gradually adds, alters, and subtracts overtonal elements from the music. Very little of Whispering Blue is melodic in the conventional sense. Rather, it’s a fine web of whistles, whispers, clicks, and chirps constructed around an intuitive thematic framework. Don’t expect Gies to throw a lasso around your neck to yank you for a ride on these otherworldy excusions; he assumes a decidedly self-assured posture which gently beckons the listener to partake of his latest discoveries. For what it is, Whispering Blue is an unqualified success, a brilliant document. In a very odd way it bears a lot of similarity to the ambient arm of electronic music- though it’s clearly performed in the moment. On Whispering Blue, surreal animal and wind noises summon images of another universe bearing only vague similarity to our own.

Presseauszug / by Richard Cochrane
Gies opens with a circular-breathing piece composed on a bed of cyclic key-clicks above which long, trilling notes appear as if by magic. They appear, of course, when Gies increases air-pressure and turns the clicks into notes, but somehow the brain, which is used to hearing rhythms with melodic phrases superimposed over them, hears it that way instead. It’s clever and cool and instantly appealing.

… The music, as the title suggests, is often very quiet and rather subtle. … Gies gives the impression of being in full control deploying notes slowly and quietly into an enigmatic silence.

There are some technically astounding things on here – the things Gies can do with a trombone mouthpiece wedged into the neck of a tenor sax must be heard to be believed – but that’s not really the point. Weird techniques may be the starting-point for some of these pieces but they certainly aren’t the end they aim at. Gies creates music of real vividness, and that’s what makes this CD extremely good.

Presseauszug / by Chris Kelsey, All Music Guide
Joachim Gies professes an interest in exploring „regions of inner hearing“ by creating „a very high sensitivity to sound.“ His playing definitely reflects such aims; Gies pays unusually close attention to the sounds coming from his horns. Gies on this recording is miked very closely, so that every breath is audible, every key click resonates; like other solo saxophonists before him – Anthony Braxton comes readily to mind – Gies uses such devices as structural elements. He’ll examine and ultimately exhaust the possibilities of a particular technique that might serve as the foundation of a particular piece – the aforementioned key clicks are an intrinsic part of the tide track, for instance. He also exploits stereo separation to good effect.

The defining characteristic of „Under the Surface“ is his disciplined use of multiphonics (the simultaneous playing of more than one note by „splitting“ the saxophone’s sound into its harmonic components). On some tracks, Gies „prepares“ his instrument by adding hoses, mutes, and in one case, a trombone mouthpiece; on others, he plays along with a soundtrack consisting of what are presumably electronically generated sounds. These latter pieces are quite successful; the pre-recorded parts are particularly interesting, and serve to separate Gies from the avant-garde pack. His solo saxophone work, while not unprecedented (again, Braxton has pretty much done it all, solo saxwise), is nevertheless substantive enough to stand on its own. Gies‘ ideas are reasonably fresh, and his execution is immaculate. It’s rare to find a saxophonist so intent making the most of the, smallest gestures.

Presseauszug / by John Cratchley, Jazzwise, July 2001
Assessment: outstanding

The German experimental and improvising saxophonist Joachim Gies is not the first to grasp the nettle of solo performance: Konitz, Braxton, Parker (Even), Gayle, Gustavsson, Surman… the list is long. However, he is in good company and a worthy companion.

The liner notes inform us that he employs ’new‘ techniques: multiphonics, quarter tones, circular breathing and slap-tonguing. Well, not so new I’m afraid and he certainly can’t claim new ground broken here. But there are other breathtaking new ideas on show. Gies plays a range of horns: soprano, alto, tenor and bass clarinet but with a difference. He plays prepared saxophone. Much like John Cage’s work with prepared piano 50 years ago the results are truly unique. The tenor is played with a trombone mouthpiece, hose is placed between the neck and mouthpiece of the alto and the soprano is played with a trumpet wahwah mute. The effect is to make the familiar sound strange.

The compositions are meditative in nature. Sometimes he plays long, melodic lines or terse statements, or strange ethereal notes held to the point of decay. It is a sparse landscape: at times tranquil at others very alien and unpredictable. The goal is the exploration of the sound barrier rather than composition and it succeeds brilliantly. Gies is all discipline and control (no histrionics here) and his approach creates inherent beauty. Four pieces known collectively as ‚From Afar‘ employ additional prepared ambient sounds and they cement the work together.

New music rather than jazz perhaps but classification isn’t important. Leo Lab is an experimental imprint and Gies fits perfectly into its agenda. This quiet gem may prove very influential in time to come.