Alexey Kruglov,Nikolay Rubanov
Experimental Sounds

Con.XIV: Experimental improvisations for two saxophonists
The musical duet for two saxophones is not the rarest and most exotic genre, but it is certainly not as popular as the piano trio or saxophone solo. And yet, due to the fact that it is not the most conventional genre — any interaction between two saxophonists is, in one way or another, a kind of experiment, an attempt to map the outline of uncharted musical territories. This is exactly the kind of confident and enthusiastic exploration that the listener will find in the duo album «Experimental Sounds» of Alexey Kruglov and Nikolay Rubanov.

This album is interesting because two schools of improvisation — Moscow and St. Petersburg — collided in it. The album was recorded at a concert in the legendary space of the Museum of Sound in St Petersburg, the former Gallery of Experimental Sound. With the help of unconventional sound techniques and expressive melodies, the musicians move from disparate and scattered rhythms to intensity and melodic fury. The silhouettes of these musical landscapes are varied — from quiet valleys mottled with ravines to swift and thundering waterfalls. At times the musicians sound ingratiating and delicate, at times the way they play is deafening. They can play disjointedly, shooting out fragmentary motifs or they can string an expressive and scattered melody that brings to mind Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman" or other free-jazz classics on a spiral of rhythm. The sound is quiet and seems to glisten, then it gathers strength and becomes matte, bursting with sonorous restlessness into the carefree silence.

Nikolai Rubanov's bass saxophone sounds almost like strings. Like a double bass, it sets the pulsation and lower voice, on top of which Alexei Kruglov's melody of alto saxophone or recorder rushes, jumps, and leaps. Sometimes, especially when Rubanov takes up the soprano saxophone, one can hear fragmentary polyphonic developments. In the most intense parts, the saxophones seem to respond to each other, picking up and passing a theme from one voice to another. However, a theme instantly varies. Sometimes it seems as if the saxophonists are playing a game—the rapid passages chase each other, collide, and scatter. The sense of the game is enhanced by the freedom and relaxed ease with which even the fastest and most technical elements are managed by the musicians.

It seems that this album is about how melody on traditionally soloing instruments can turn into a disciplining, acoustic space-building rhythm — as if unexpectedly, spontaneously, the musicians drift towards minimalistic patterns that set the pulse of improvisations. These rhythmic-melodic cells, primarily created by the lower voice, do not remain identical to themselves — they develop, change, turn into repetitive sequences with variations. The experimental character of the album is possessed in the flexibility and mobility of sound unfolding into various forms.

Alexey Kruglov — alto saxophone, recorder, voice
Nikolay Rubanov — bass and soprano saxophones

Music by Alexey Kruglov & Nikolay Rubanov / Recorded at the Saint Petersburg Sound Museum on July 8, 2022 / Mixed by Alexey Kruglov / Technical assistance by Ruslan Zaipold / Picture for the front cover: Oleg Kudyashov. Landscape. 2010 (from the collection of Elena Borisova) / Design by Alexey Korf / Photo by Ivan Vysokikh / Produced by Alexey Kruglov & Yuri Vinogradov / Special thanks to Ivan Vysokikh, Elena Borisova
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