By Ken Micallef | Published December 2018
Think “solo drums” and even if the player in question is an acknowledged master, the listener might cringe. But when the drummer incorporates random percussion within freely played rhythms, resulting in a complete music that barely resembles Western notions of the drum set, listeners are in for a treat.
Fredy Studer, 70, is a notable European drummer, with 90 album credits stretching from ’70s electric free-jazz to collaborations on a handful of ’70s and ’80s ECM records and various avant-garde outings. Using extended techniques and various percussion in novel ways, Studer creates an enchanting and unique language on Now’s The Time (Solo Drums).
Opener “InPuls” establishes a standard 4/4 pulse over which Studer orchestrates lovely cymbal and tom timbres. Playing everything with an alert, delicate touch, Studer makes drums sing with tone and cymbals rustle like tuned wind. “Katharina San” explores what sounds like detuned cymbals played with mallets. “Another Day” is a waterfall of shimmering bells, ricocheting cymbal slices, brushed snare drum and ringing bass drum. And on “Joysticks,” Studer plays a distinct double-stroke on the middle of a snare drum head, the edge and the drum’s shell, with humorous strikes leading to a long bell tone and brushed flams.
Extremely well-recorded, the album’s percussive subtlety immerses the listener, creating great sonic impact. Released as digital download or as a double-LP set with a 250-page book, Now’s The Time (Solo Drums) is a must for any percussion fan.
Now’s The Time (Solo Drums): InPuls; Brubber; Can I?; Katharina San; Noisy Groove; Lies Mehr Nadeln; Circle Stomp; An Open Window For Frasi; Now’s The Time; Another Day; Lonely Breathing; Joysticks; Risky Edge; Rostiger Himmel. (64:36)
Personnel: Fredy Studer, drums, cymbals, percussion.