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TOOT - two

at14    TOOT - ‘two’

Axel Dörner - trumpet

Thomas Lehn - analogue synthesiser

Phil Minton - voice

 1. ling      26:52

 2. klagen  27:22

 TT   54:29

 recorded in concert at Esslingen, Germany 2008 (ling)

 & Klagenfurt, Austria 2005 (klagen)


“As its title implies, this is the second outing – the first was on Sofa three years ago – from the triumvirate of Axel Dörner (trumpet), Thomas Lehn (analogue synth) and Phil Minton (voice). It also refers to the fact that the disc contains just two tracks, "ling", recorded in June 2008 in Esslingen and "kla", which dates from May 2005 in Klagenfurt. Connoisseurs of Dörner, Lehn and Minton can amuse themselves by trying to work out how the musicians' individual vocabularies have evolved over those three years, but suffice it to say they make abundant and gleeful use of their particular "tricks" (to quote Paul Lovens): there are plenty of pitchless machine gun puffs and gritty low notes from Dörner, spring reverb shudders and sci-fi bleeps from Lehn and split-tone wheezes, birdcall twitters and Leatherface-does-Donald-Duck from Minton. But even though the individual sounds themselves will no doubt be familiar to you, dear reader, the way these three master craftsmen choose to deploy them is source of amusement and delight. To paraphrase Art Lange writing about Misha Mengelberg, you can hear them listening to each other – and they take great pleasure in going their own ways when you least expect it. It'd be also too easy for one of Minton's boozy spitstorms to provoke an avalanche of stuttering and splattering from Dörner and Lehn, but more often than not they take the opposite tack, sitting quietly on a sound until Phil either shuts up or joins them. Similarly, some of Dörner's busiest playing occurs while Minton is at his most demure and introspective. It all adds up to one of the most musically satisfying improv releases of the year, on what must be (though I hate the inevitable end of year "top tens" and "best of"s) 2008's label of the year.”                                                                           -  Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic

“Первый альбом трио TOOT“The first album by the trio TOOT appeared in 2003.  ‘Two’, their second disc, comes five years later, recorded at festivals in Austria and Germany, and issued on the British label another timbre.  The quality of the album comes as no surprise.  The musicians’ abilities are well-known and have been demonstrated on dozens of discs.  Minton, Dörner and Lehn each have their own strong personal style which is faithfully reproduced from album to album, so that people know in advance what to expect.  The major (and perhaps only) difference between ‘Two’ and their previous cd is the time and place of the recording; everything else remains unchanged.  And yet the disc is a real feast.  It is one of the most striking of recent releases and can lay claim to the title ‘album of the year’.  The three musicians are able to combine multiple relationships while shifting between different layers of sound.  Thomas Lehn’s synthesiser plays the role of the first violin, linking and balancing Minton’s vocals with the rasping trumpet of Dörner.  On both pieces the musicians give each other plenty of space and obviously enjoy their interactions with each other.  Time and again the two Germans find ways of containing the physicality of Minton’s textural sounds in an almost clinical way.  This album is hugely pleasurable and provides us with two electroacoustic masterpieces.”  

                                                                                                                    -  Dennis Vederko, Machine Room

“A second release from TOOT - the inspired coming together of Axel Dörner’s trumpet, Thomas Lehn’s analogue synthesiser and Phil Minton’s inimitable voice.  Two lengthy improvisations, recorded with vivid clarity that’s almost tactile.  No one can match Minton in the role of park bench visionary, giving eccentric voice to the world’s cryptic signals and the body’s fleshy mysteries.  But Dörner and Lehnare sparking from the same outsider circuit.  There’s a real sense of complicity in their approach, a shared language of vaporousexhalations, low murmurs and judders, hums, groans, farts and other explosive outbursts.  It’s the language common to spittle and synapse, drool and neural network - sounds of the body electric.  Freedom of association is one of the great regenerative strengths of improvised music, but the affinities within TOOT are so readily audible that you feel it’s a triothat just had to happen, and had to succeeed as it does.”   - Julian Cowley, The Wire


“Come to think of it, in improvisation music, a lot of the ad-hoc projects are also supergroups. Take this one for instance: we have Axel Dörner on trumpet, Thomas Lehn on analogue synthesizer and Phil Minton doing voice. Is that a supergroup, a meeting of giants or what? There are two pieces here, from recorded in 2005 and one from 2008 - meaning this supergroup has been around for some time, hence the idea of choosing a band name: Toot. What happens here, in two pieces that last around twenty-seven minutes each, is some excellent improvisation - the top shelf in the world of improvisation. Everything seems to be melting together here, with voice, synth and trumpet playing music that easily can go on as composed music. They feel exactly what the others are doing and how to interact with eachother. Sometimes they drift apart, and let their own instrument sound, but, maybe save for Lehn, whose synthesizer may sound like a synthesizer, how does a trumpet or a voice sound when its used by Minton or Dörner? Like anything but a trumpet or a voice. And sometimes the voice sounds like a trumpet and vice versa. The three of them playing together is a wonderful excursion into improvised music, of course music that requires full attention but which has so much beauty captured in. After 54.29 minutes you are left breathless.”   

                                                                                                                                           -   Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly

“Two by Toot features three long-established improvisers who have been together for over a decade; their first album, One, was released in 2005 on the Norwegian label Sofa. Two was recorded at concerts in Austria in 2005 and in Germany in 2008, allowing the listener the opportunity to hear how those three years affected the threesome's music and interactions. The three ingredients of the trio—voice, trumpet and synthesiser—are not an obvious combination but given that all three players listen well and react appropriately, they make it work and sound natural.

Vocalist extraordinaire Phil Minton is the elder statesman here and, although his gymnastics are more restrained than on his own solo recordings, they are as delightful as ever. His contributions complement Axel Dorner's trumpet and Thomas Lehn's synth, often seeming to imitate them thus setting up a form of call and response as one imitates the other and so forth. Minton often breaks out of such cycles by employing his renowned surreal utterances. Much of the time, one of the three is to the fore; occasional crescendos when all three play together for a prolonged period are made all the more thrilling by their scarcity.   This trio plays the type of improv that, it is now tempting to call "good, old-fashioned improv". As wonderful as it ever was. “

                                                                                                                                      -  John Eyles, All About Jazz

“Phil Minton, Thomas Lehn & Axel Dörner, a maw, an EMS Synthi A, and a horn, for several years now form a Toot collective – ‘One’ in fact was published in 2003 on Sofa Records. The second part of this new 54 minute disc originate from Klagenfurt in 2005, the first part from 2008 in Esslingen. The wit thereby - and it is witty, if wit is caused by a high factor of perplexity -  consists not least in the fact that three different media ages meet at eye level. Minton is the prehistoric man, already homo ludens, but not yet homo faber. He only has and only needs his body, pus, throat, vocal chords, to aspirate sound (to give mouth).  Dörner uses a tool, a blowpipe, to amplify his breath, and he is already wired up with electronics, as Lehn utilizes it exclusively. The ‘brainbox‘ under his fingertips is creaking only with unnatural sounds. The wit now lies in the fact that the big steps of Evolution, as if undone, combine in consensus and consonance, so much that gabbering and trumpet come as close as Dörner‘s hissing, spitting, chuggling and growling, resonating like an echo or derivate of Lehn‘s crackling synthesizer. The consonance in Klagenfurt is the far more dramatic and expressive,  specific mannerisms colliding more sportily.  Minton slobbers, shrieks, croaks, wheezes and strikes up palaeolithic proto-chants, animating Dörner to buzzing and rumbling sounds, while Lehn sparks sharp oscillating noises in between. This culminates in a furious soundclash, with Minton switching from high whistling notes, nearly tone on tone with the chirping EMS, to guttural grumbling and flatulence. The maximalism of the Klagenfurt part has the perplexed laughers on its side. The ‘flatter‘ finesses in Esslingen will satisfy more delicate tastes.”                                                                                                            -  Rigobert Dittmann, Bad Alchemy

The combination of Axel Dörner, Thomas Lehn, and Phil Minton is not a match that springs immediately to mind.  Odd, then, that this trio celebrated their tenth anniversary performing together last year.  Two is a follow-up to their first release, One, on the Sofa label.  The two long collective improvisations find the three in fine form, plying their mix of masterful technical control, split-second response, and spattered drollery.  Each of these musicians has a readily identifiable voice and vocabulary.  There’s Dörner’s trumpet deconstructions of brassy hisses, burred growls, and sputtered flurries; Lehn’s warm analogue synth grit and oscillations tossed with lightening reflexes and a gestural sense of line; and Minton’s “man of a thousand voices” groans, howls, pinched rasps and explosive exhortations.  But the collective manages to subsume the individuals. Minton’s rambunctious impulses are put in check. Dörner filters the more effusive aspects of his jazz-based playing through his timbral abstractions. Lehn weaves through the spaces to balance out the trio.  The two improvisations are models of “old school” conversational interaction that move from hushed flutters to all-out barrage.  What makes this combo work so well is that these are musicians who know how to listen and how to balance densities and velocity of line.  They’re clearly having a blast here finding a common flow and then pushing at each other to explode things off in new directions.  This makes for an engaging listen from the first hissed whispers to the final pulsing pings and blats.”                 -  Michael Rosenstein

“Axel Dörner (trumpet), Thomas Lehn (analogue synthesizer) and Phil Minton (voice) are Toot, a trio of musicians whose attitude towards the reduction of expressive means does not prevent the music from sounding dangerously invasive. This notwithstanding, their improvisational methods elicit considerations about an asceticism of sorts, such is the extreme degree of excruciating concentration needed to perform at these levels of creative continuity and, especially, virtuosity. The two comprised sets, recorded in 2005 and 2008 in Austria and Germany respectively, are informed by a poetry of immaculate outrageousness which finds its best expression in Minton’s celebrated tendency to disintegrate whatever concept of vocalism one can have in mind with the same ease of a kid who builds a crystal sculpture with the shards of a precious object that he’s just shattered. Dörner and Lehn are spectacularly on the ball, providing counterattacks, resolute answers and intuitions of their own, the whole represented by segments of absolute mayhem where the sonic contamination is nothing short of sublime. The juxtaposition of flexibility and rigidity characterizing certain parts is among the most substantial traits of the concoction; the same goes for the physically strenuous extension of quieter episodes where whispers, wet hissing and subdued hums gradually grow into an incandescent promiscuity sparkled by an inexhaustible vivacity, brash emissions and fluid unobtrusiveness pawns in a game of draining contrasts and immediate regenerations. In a way, these complementary forces constitute the overall elemental temperament of the CD which - in case this was not clear enough - is essential.”

                                                                                                                                               -  Massimo Ricci, Temporary Fault

“Simplicity doesn’t enter the equation on TOOT’s Two. Here the Bebop chops trumpeter Axel Dörner exhibits in Monk’s Casino are transmogrified into disembodied brass sound pulses, the better to meld with the quivering wave forms and undercurrents from Thomas Lehn’s synthesizer and the cries, retches and mumbles which make up the unconventional oralization of British vocalist Phil Minton.

Minton’s style of anti-singing, which encompasses duck quacks, yodeling, basso growls and strangled yelps, reduces vocal expression to its most basic. So does the trumpeter, whose expression mostly consists of flat-line air forced through the horn’s body tube, reductionist breaths and circumscribed grace notes. Abstract on their own, Lehn’s sound envelopes hold the improvisations together with pulsating signals and electric-piano-like sprinkles.

Evolving chromatically or contrapuntally, Toot’s soundworld is pointillist, but not cynosure. Despite Minton’s strident throat extensions, his gibberish sprouting is put into context when mated with the others’ outpourings. Purring timbres and ring modulator-like whooshes from the synthesizer create a connective undercurrent, while Dörner’s excursions into muted grace notes confirm the in-the-moment status of the improvisations. “                                     -  Ken Waxman, Jazzword

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