Christian Weber assembled a pretty solid quintet for this one with Hans Koch (bass clarinet, saxophones, electronics), Michael Moser (cello), Martin Siewert (guitar, lap steel, electronics) and Christian Wolfarth (drums). It’s not only Moser’s presence that brings up tinges of Polwechsel but also that fact that the six pieces are as much compositions as improvisations. Dating from 2002, the session comes off as a somewhat rougher edged variation on that group, which is a good thing.
The opening moments of the first track, 'Pony Music', are actually remarkably similar to very early AMM, all rough, high drones and background chatter though it soon begins swimming in other channels with quasi-tonal low arco from Weber’s bass and some rich colorings, presumably courtesy Siewert. As in the other pieces, noticing the compositional aspects, aside from perhaps the odd repeated pattern, is difficult at best. However, one guesses it’s the structure involved that gives all the pieces a strong degree of coherence, if at the expense of a bit of exhilaration. 'Sun Perspec-tives' sets up a delicate dance of pizzicato strings with a steady electronic click and a gnat swarm of thin buzzing before shifting into denser terrain. For this listener, the click, which early on served as a focusing line around which the other elements spun, becomes subtly intrusive and unnecessary, a contribution that I suspect a sensitive improviser might have dropped.
How can you not love a piece called 'Buzz Aldrin'? I’m not sure if this is meant as a sympathetic homage to the second guy on the Moon but it’s certainly my favorite
piece on the disc, the one that really takes off. Low, bowed strings, sheared metal, bass clarinet and urgent electronics propel this baby right along, picking up momen-tum and force as it goes. Though the music is very different from other eai bands with marginal “crossover” potential like Radian or Trapist, there’s a lot about a track like this that might entice an adventurous listener from rock or jazz.
While 'Camping Light Night' fails to kindle much in the way of heat, the lengthy 'Frogmouth' works very well. Siewert’s guitar is plucked elegantly over a massed of bowed metal, wood and strings, expanding the space to a point where almost any actions taking place therein assume an aspect of “rightness”, no mean feat. A nice balance is maintained between the abstract and the spacey; just when you think it’s getting a bit two smooth, several handfuls of sand are tossed in. It flames out rather beautifully. 'Lone Star', true to its name, closes things out with a fine, chilly presence, one that harkens a little bit back to “traditional” free improvisation, albeit with the drums contributing some semi-regular rhythms. As is the case throughout the disc, Weber does a good job laying out thick slabs from the depths of his bass, grounding music that might otherwise become rootless, wonderfully offsetting Siewert’s graceful guitar at the very end.
Wither the title, 3 Suits & A Violin, I’ve no idea but it’s a good, very colorful outing, one worth hearing.

Brian Olewnick
November 2006