Burnt Friedman & Jaki Liebezeit
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Burnt Friedman & Jaki Liebezeit


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"So what does music sound like before it actually exists?"

So what does music sound like before it actually exists? Deploying a fascinating symbiosis of analogue and digital instruments in “Secret Rhythms”, the drummer Jaki Liebezeit and the electronic sound artist Burnt Friedman demonstrate just how unpredictable things are when they are still in the process of emerging. Guided by a global understanding of rhythm, the duo have long been investigating the territory behind the boundaries of conventional metrics and have been gently but determinedly rattling at the rarely disputed throne of the four-four time that rules the music of the western world. With maximum precision and a passion for detail, Friedman builds his imaginative sound structures that come to us as tiny particles, intricate loops, or floating surfaces. It is sound architecture whose goal is never that of the finished, fixed building but attempts to fathom the “developmental space between things, the noise in the interspaces of existence” – a goal summed up by “Nonplace”, the name of Friedman’s Cologne-based label.

These electronically generated sounds interweave with the constantly flowing, cyclic micro-grooves of Liebezeit’s live drums and then dissolve before re-forming in different shapes and configurations. In the course of “Secret Rhythms”, therefore, there are any number of those “felicitous moments” (Burnt Friedman) in which the music “seems to be playing on its own”, where everything flows and fixed structures have become superfluous. The revolutionary and magic thing about this music is its concealed – “secret” – rhythms never able to be wholly pinpointed and proving themselves to be the most efficient solvent when it comes to shaking up established rhythmic patterns. To cite Mozart, the whole things sounds “most brilliant – pleasant to the ear – natural, without falling into the void.”

The line-up could hardly be more diverse. On one side Jaki Liebezeit, the Can veteran, the guru of the art of purged drumming, who has long abandoned linear metric concepts in favour of a cyclic understanding of rhythm. On the other side the saxophonist Hayden Chisholm, a modern-jazz specialist and poly-stylist, in this case an ambient aesthete with a pronounced affinity with organic sounds. And in the middle Bernd Friedman, whose synthetic armada effects the structuring and commentating expansion of the old-school soundscape. “Secret Rhythms” is the working title of this project, which has run for over five years now. And, in fact the way these three harmonize on stage does remain their own secret. Good vibes, maybe, thanks to their powers of active, respectful and non-judgemental listening. But their performance is one of astonishingly timeless elegance, and if the rows of chairs in the theatre hadn’t been in the way then the music would have been eminently danceable, too.
( concert review Punktfestival Kristiansand, Norway 2007)

- Punktfestival

"what's the genre ?"

„It’s difficult to categorize, but easy to enjoy.“ (gridface 2005) - Girdface

"Various comments"

„...these Rhythms sound free and vibrant and open, mainly because the
composer's use of empty space as a takeoff and landing platform for shifts
in rhythm and time in these airy compositions is near brilliant.“
(allaboutjazz 2002)

„...sound like the modern jazz quartet of the 24th century...“ (Uncut 2002)

„...a quiet revelation.“ (The Wire 2002)

- Allaboutjazz/Uncut/The Wire

"Secret Rhythms"

„After a few spins, Secret Rhythms 2 reveals a multiplicity of rhythmic
approaches. There are definitely many influences from rhythm patterns around
the globe but for the most part the instruments and ambience associated with
these patterns is completely subsumed into Friedman and Liebezeit’s highly
programmed “inner world music.“ (Exclaim/Canada 2005)

- Exclaim

"Live @ Punkt Festival (Norway 2007)"

Friedman & Liebezeit feat. Chisholm

Live at PUNKT Jazz-Festival, Kristiansand, Norwegen September 2007
Review by John Kelman

German keyboardist/electronic manipulator Burnt Friedman first emerged as a creative ambient/electronica artist in the late 1990s but is perhaps best known for his work with David Sylvian in the Nine Horses band, first heard on Snowbound Sorrow (Samadhi Sound, 2005). For his first appearance at Punkt—and the final theatre performance of the 2007 festival—he enlisted the legendary drummer Jaki Liebezeit, of the proto-Kraut rock group Can, and saxophonist/clarinetist Hayden Chisholm, who works in the same sphere of artists and has appeared on Friedman’s Can’t Cool (Nonplace, 2003) as well as the Friedman/Liebezeit collaboration Secret Rhythms, Vol. 2, in addition to the Nine Horses project.

With one of the most stunning backdrops of the festival, the trio played music that, in its programmatic and repetitive nature, bore some conceptual resemblance to pianist Nik Bärtsch’s Stoa (ECM, 2006). But whereas Bärtsch’s self-described “ritual groove music” or “Zen funk” is largely acoustic, Friedman is all about electronic tones and processed sound. Still, with Friedman creating visceral grooves on an unconventional drum kit and Chisholm adding his own form of expanded minimalism, the trio made music that was both engaging and trance-inducing.

There wasn’t a weak link in the group, but it was difficult, despite the seductive images and vivid lighting, to take one’s eyes away from Liebezeit. Creating complex rhythms, often in irregular meters, the tone of his kit was unique (no bass drum, but a very deep and resonant floor tom), and his approach to evolving ideas, not to mention the place he ended up at by a song’s completion, was different from where he began yet somehow seeming inevitable.

Friedman’s control of sound, melody and pulse made him a perfect act to close the theatre program. From delicate electronic blips to near-metal guitar tones, like Liebezeit he found ways to develop what was often a simple premise for as long as ten minutes in ways that were both hypnotic and demanding close attention. Chisholm, rather than being any kind of soloist, meshed both sonically and thematically with Friedman, the two often piggy-backing on each other's tone to create a richer whole. There were no changes to speak of, yet there was always a gradual sense of unfolding that kept things interesting throughout.

- John Kelman


Discographies (selection)

Jaki Liebezeit

1969 Monster Movie – Can (united artists)
1970 Soundtracks - Can
1971 Tago Mago - Can
1972 Ege Bamyasi - Can
1980 Freedom Of Speech - Phantom Band (sky)
2002 Secret Rhythms - with B.Friedman (nonplace)

Burnt Friedman

1997 Golden Star - Nonplace Urban Field
1999 Templates – Flanger (Ninja Tune)
1998 Just Landed - Burnt Friedman & The Nu Dub Players (scape)
2000 Con Ritmo – Burnt Friedman (nonplace)
2001 Inner Space/Outer Space – Flanger (Ninja Tune)
2001 Love Songs – Burnt Friedman (nonplace)
2002 Secret Rhythms - with Jaki Liebezeit
2003 Can´t Cool - B.Friedman & The Nu Dub Players (nonplace)
2005 Spirituals – Flanger (nonplace)
2005 Snow Borne Sorrow - Nine Horses, with David Sylvian & Steve Jansen (samadhisound)
2007 First Night Forever – Burnt Friedman & Friends (nonplace)

B.Friedman & J.Liebezeit

Secret Rhythms 1 CD/D-LP 2002 (nonplace)
Out In The Sticks EP 2005 (nonplace)
Secret Rhythms 2 CD/LP 2006 (nonplace)
Secret Rhythms 3 CD/LP 2008 (nonplace)



Short Biographies

Jaki Liebezeit spent the early part of his career in Barcelona playing Jazz with Chet Baker amongst others as well as studying Flamenco and Arabic
music. In 1968 he was a founding member of Can, one of the most influential bands of all time, which helped to define what has become known as
Krautrock. Since Can´s last performance in 1977, Brian Eno, Depeche Mode, Primal Scream, Eurhythmics and Bill Laswell amongst many other international artists have requested his inimitable groove. He developed his own projects such as "Drums Off Chaos" in 1982 around the time of his first meeting with Jah Wobble with whom he has worked on many occasions since. In 2001 Friedman
and Liebezeit started touring and recording together.

Navigating an atypical musical expedition, Burnt Friedman´s unusual trajectory curved its way through an adolescent obsession with drums and a singular dedication to amassing a self-recorded audio-library dating from 1978. What followed in the late 80ties was a period of art academia, then immersion in the first flurry of collaborative music projects. Since 1993 he released records under various names, such as Nonplace Urban Field and began working as Flanger with Uwe Schmidt aka Atom™. As a result of annual travels to Australia and New Zealand the Nu Dub Players took shape in 1997. In the year 2000 Friedman founded his own record label, Nonplace, to ensure continuity for independent musical adventures like collaborations with Jaki Liebezeit or The Nu Dub Players. Besides, Friedman just started a collaboration with David Sylvian.