CD The Road Bends Here

Leo Lab 072, recorded 1999, released 2000 on British label Leo Lab. Total Time: 59 Minutes. Hans Tammen – acoustic guitar, Dominic Duval – bass.

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The Road is Dr Jekyll to Endangered Guitar’s Mr Hyde. In the midst of tonally ambiguous chords, superfast runs and sprays of glittering harmonics, Tammen employs tremolo effects and stuttery percussive play near the bridge of his guitar. (Brian Marley, Avant Magazine 2001)

With The Road Bends Here, [Hans Tammen] should reach the recognition he deserves. (François Couture, All Music Guide 2001)

Particularly noteworthy is Tammen. Acknowledged as a first rate guitar experimenter who attaches mechanical devices to his unsuspecting electric instrument to create an original sound, his acoustic guitar playing here is as unlike his electric forays as both are from mainstream jazz guitar. It’s as if a tenor saxophonist was able to resemble a balls-to-the-wall stylist on one disc, then perform equally impressively as a delicate microtonalist on the next. (Ken Waxman, JazzWeekly 2001)

…so überzeugen mich vor allem die klein- und feingliedrigen Strukturen, die Tammen im Zusammenspiel mit Duval erarbeitet. (Bad Alchemy 2001)

Sam Prestianni, Jazziz Magazine 2001
A brilliant set of acoustic improvs by guitarist Hans Tammen and bassist Dominic Duval helps document the new era in string music. Shunning the conventional duo relationship for a less traveled route, The Road Bends Here is foremost a physical outing, in which both players give equal weight to their instruments’ wood (bodies) and strings as music-making catalysts. This approach stretches percussive and timbral expectations into a vast terrain of innovation. Sure, Tammen takes his lead from the granddaddy of deconstructed guitar, Derek Bailey, but he prepares his out-tuned six-string with ingenious mutating devices, including a seesawing bow, and seems to better marry the traditional paradoxes of rhythmic/arrhythmic and tonal/atonal in an astonishing single swoop. Master bassist Duval buoys up Tammen’s convulsive extended techniques with a tasteful harmonic foundation that’s uncanny in its perfect pitch. He also meets the guitarist’s impassioned charge forward with his own sonic inventions.

Julian Cowley, The Wire 2001
Duval´s reputation as bass colossus has been established alongside robust figures such as Glen Spearman, David S. Ware and Cecil Taylor. An acoustic guitarist performing duets with him must have a steely nerve. New Yorker Tammen enters the fray with viguor and conviction, and Duval proives an amiable giant, smpathetic towards undemonstrative gestures and amenable to subtlety. Tammen has won plaudits as an innovator. Here he navigates well-defined slipstreams of plosive clicks and dry rustling, proving nonetheless worthy partner for Duval.

Richard Cochrane, Musings 2001
None of those folk impressions for Hans Tammen, one of the most ferociously talented and inventive guitarists to emerge in the last ten years. His technique is noisy and percussive, his energy relentless and unstoppable. Since his recent releases have focussed on electric guitar, where his ability to wring hitherto unimagined sounds from the instrument is truly dazzling, it’s nice to hear him here exclusively on acoustic.

His duo partner Duval’s most high-profile gig to date has, arguably, been with Cecil Taylor, and there is certainly a strong connection between the pianist and Tammen. Both play with a headllong energy which seems impossible to sustain, which seems bound to be exhausted after only a moment, but which somehow spirals on until you forget it’s a whirling, high-speed rush and find yourself at the eye of the storm. There is no doubt that Tammen’s music is powerfully energetic, but it seems also to breathe in very lonng phrases, much as Taylors does.

To keep up with this sort of thing requires considerable skill. There’s little point trying to match it note-for-note; only cacophony is likely to ensue. Fortunately, Duval has a wealth of tricks up his sleeve, and he has the strength to lead as well as follow, making for a duo performance of exhilarating dynamism, and a set of eleven tracks each of which has a clear and distinctive identity. Don’t miss this one, especially if Tammen’s work is new to you.

Stephen Loewy, SamGoody 2001
Acoustic guitar and string bass might seem like a mild mix, but for all of the sound, the intensity, and creativity, you might as well have assembled an entire string orchestra. That´s how powerfully Hans Tammen and Dominic Duval project. Duval has a huge inventory of recordings in a wide variety of contexts, but his performances are never tiring, due to his seemingly unlimited wealth of ideas. The lesser-known Tammen is no less inventive. He may not make the guitar sing, but he manages to squeeze from it all those missing notes you never thought were there. These fellows pounce on their strings, like cats in heat, drooling with an obsessive, persuasive, often percussive energy that sallies forth like a volcanic eruption. If Tammen had been around in the late 1950s, who would have needed the electric guitar? Ultimately, it is music strange and beautiful – that this duo makes, and good, compelling music that gets in the bones. If it is abstract or difficult, it is worth the effort.

Theo Jarrier, Jazzman Magazine 2001
Le hasard est quelque chose qui échappe à la volonté de ceux qui créent mais avec lequel il est possible de jouer, de structurer. A travers un instrumentation à cordes, le duo permet la confrontation de deux modes de jeux, testant le juste équilibre entre l´aléatoire et la rigueur instrumentale. Récemment redécouvert en Europe grace aux nombreux enregistrements produit par Leo records, Duval est l´un des contrebassistes favories de Cecil Taylor. Guitariste d´origine allemande, résident aujoud´hui aux Etats-Unis, Tammen pratique l´instrument dès 1972, joue et enregistre dans de nombreuses formations en musique improvisée ou écrite. Ici, Tammen et Duval s´attachent en particulier à l´intensité des climats, parfois amplifiés d´une main fougueuse qui fragmente les matières drues ou fillandreuses d´éclats percussifs. Le corps de la contrebasse est générant de nouvelles textures, volumineuses, consistantes, alors que la guitare, méticuleusement ou rageusement démantibulée, crisse, grince, crépite. Tous deux préconisent la flexibilité des nuances et la diversité des textures sonores. La singularité et la maîtrise de “The Road Bends Here” fait de cet enregistrement un duo de cordes rare et cohérent complémentaire à celui de Bailey et de Léandre.