Percussion is more than just drums, a fact that Eric Thielemans highlights on his latest effort for Miasmah. The title is apt, as Sprang incorporates the sounds of springs and gears, plants and water. It’s a springlike album, pun intended, perhaps the first Miasmah album that doesn’t sound like fall. In contrast to his label mates, Thielemans is playful and percussively curious, in the manner of Diego Stocco. While Kaboom Karavan is also playful, Thieleman prefers to play with the blinds open, dispelling the darkness. There’s even a vein of humor in his whistle; “Garden” splits the difference between Morricone and the 7 Dwarves.
While Thielemans demonstrated his collaborative skills on Kreng’s debut album, he blossoms on his own on Sprang. The happy timbres of “Tptptptp” sound like glass jars and tabletops, which they may well be; this is not an artist that one should seat at one’s dinner table before the food has arrived. Most children are told not to play with their food, but we suspect this one was asked to put down the utensils. Even when he does play a drum, he doesn’t just hit it with drumsticks; he taps, rolls, scratches, and explores every possible timbre. The squeaking of “Kkkkrrrrr” is a bit harder to identify: it sounds like a saw, a mattress and an angry squeak toy at a summit meeting. The cymbals of “Ode to Oxley” accompany wood blocks to a ball; the vibraphone of “post soldiers’ hymn” is backed with countertop bongos. But the best is saved for last: “River”, an active piece filled with struck chimes, echoes like an ice storm raging over an aluminum house.
Sprang is clearly not for all tastes. Often abstract and sparse, it lacks the sort of hook that one is accustomed to hearing. But its greatest appeal may lie in its power to inspire. As one listens, one begins to wonder about the sonic properties of everyday objects. One suspects that Thielemans would be happy if a listener were to rise from the couch and to start tapping the refrigerator door or hitting the kitchen faucet with a metal spoon. (Richard Allen)
Release date: 4 April