By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Formed in 2001 by Berliner steel string guitarists Jan Thoben and Jochen Brisen, Taunus started as a fairly conventional jazz combo with eccentric folk leanings. The debut, Malinche, consisted of minimal, interlocking guitar patterns that were akin to Robert Fripp surveying the Burl Ives songbook—intriguing but a bit too laidback and studied for its own good.
Harriet is another story altogether. Incorporating elements of dissonance along with found sounds and an artificial voice generator, Thoben and Brisen have created an acoustic, ambient record with backbone and substance. Named in honor of Charles Darwin's freshwater turtle that died in 2006 at the age of 175, Harriet features eight sound collages presented without a single note wasted or out of place. Sounding somewhat similar to the pioneering work of The Books, Taunus' improvisational jazz inclinations are much more pronounced, creating challenging music that is imminently approachable.
While a composition such as "Dots and Lines" might sound like a couple of guys just tooling around in a studio, the interplay between the duo and the four guest musicians makes even a warm up a matter of interest. When the entire unit takes hold of "Tramin" and the splendid "Concepts & Beliefs," it becomes clear that this is music of uncommon clarity and significance. Mellow to be sure, but Harriet is alive with the fire of whispers and hushed tones: notes, chords and noises in the service of an excitedly unsullied muse.
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