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Just None of Those Things

by The International Nothing

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1.

about

*** RELEASE DATE for CD and download: February 20th, 2022 ***
*** VINYL RELEASE: September 2022 ***

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The International Nothing
Kai Fagaschinski, clarinet (right)
Michael Thieke, clarinet (left)

Collectively composed by Kai Fagaschinski (AKM) and Michael Thieke (GEMA), 2019-2021.
Recorded by Michael in Kai's living room in Berlin-Kreuzberg between June 21st and 25th, 2021.
Mixed by Michael and Kai. Mastered by Werner Dafeldecker.
Cover design by tanabemse.
Supported by ske/austro mechana.

www.ftarri.com | nichts.klingt.org

credits

released February 20, 2022

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The International Nothing is a Berlin-based psycho-acoustic clarinet duo formed by Michael Thieke and Kai Fagaschinski in 2000. They collectively compose multilayered sound sculptures using multiphonics, beat frequencies and difference tones as an integral part of their language. Both musicians might be known as improvisers but in this project they develop and perform exclusively their own compositions crafted with an extreme care for detail and precision. The duo's works have been released on five albums by the Japanese Ftarri Label. They toured all over Europe, in North and South America and in East Asia.

For 2 1/2 years The International Nothing has been working more obsessed than ever on their new long-form composition Just None of Those Things. The two clarinets continue to gel into one multilayered entity. And while you might recognize their collective voice, they certainly reached down way further into the abyss of weirdness. Ambiguously this one might count as their yet rawest and most refined work exploring their most futuristic and primordial sonic territories. As always all you hear is two clarinets - no overdubs, no electronic manipulation, no improvisation.

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reviews:

THE WIRE (#457, UK, 03/2022)
German clarinettists Kai Fagaschinski and Michael Thieke have simultaneously transformed their music and held tight to its initial modus operandi since emerging from Berlin's lowercase improv scene more than two decades ago. Each musician is a master of locating nuance within the most minimal of materials, and when The International Nothing began that felt like enough, demanding patience and close listening from their audience. Along the way the pair increasingly worked with psychoacoustic phenomena, manipulating breath and pitch to produce a veritable cornucopia of beating, multiphonics and difference tones to complement their sere machinations into an elusive magic show in the ears of its listeners.
But the duo's greatest achievement has been their quiet yet steady advance as composers, and this new work - the product of two and a half years of research and practice - makes plain that Fagaschinski and Thieke are far more than a couple of sound-obsessed experimenters. I was fortunate enough to hear this piece played live during a lull in Covid's second summer, and this recording is every bit as memorable as that experience, except it allows me to notice far more of the detail-rich action. While it's single piece, the work goes through numerous sections, opening with aerated long tones and spilled breath that coalesce into sine tone-like shimmers. Soon fluctuations interrupt the calm for a braided compositional/textural rollercoaster ride - albeit a calm spin - where the psychoacoustic effects transform a series of terse motifs into a masterfully woven Persian carpet sound.
Phrases and effects cycle on and on, but as they do there is a constant transformation, shifting between woozy undulation, hypnotic gliding, and pointillistic splattering. But the duo pushed those micro permutations into ever-shifting terrain, flowing from sequence to sequence with an elusive but unerring logic that's deeply satisfying and conceptually whole. You need to be willing to surrender to the music, because that's when the freedom kicks in.
by Peter Margasak

freiStil (Austria, 05/2022)
Auch in seiner sechsten Veröffentlichung baut sich das Internationale Nichts vor uns auf wie ein Vulkan, in dem es beständig brodelt und von dem man nur hoffen kann, dass es zu keinen lebensbedrohlichen Eruptionen kommt. Das waghalsige Klarinettenduo, dessen Musik im Schwindelzettel mit psycho-akustisch nicht schlecht charakterisiert wird, sammelt die Multiphonics und die Spaltklänge und die nicht genauer eruierbaren Parallelschwünge und Überschneidungen zu großen Haufen, die sodann sorgfältig in kleine Wundertüten eingepackt und uns zum Geschenk gemacht werden. Es sind der lange Atem, die hohe Intensität und die Eselsgeduld – apropos: wie auf allen TIN-Covers sehen wir die wunderlichsten Tiere gemalt –, die dieses Klarinettenmarathonduo auszeichnet und seine akustischen Höchstleistungen ermöglicht. Stundenlang möchte man diesem schillernden Nichts lauschen und seinen minutenlangen Nachklängen, ohne dass auch nur den Bruchteil einer Sekunde Langeweile sich einstellte. Für The International Nothing gilt sonderbarerweise das Gegenteil des Großteils improvisierter Musik: Sie klingt auf Tonträger, in diesem Fall wahlweise auf CD oder Vinyl, noch aufregender und üppiger an assoziativem Reichtum als live, weil man von visuellen Eindrücken zu sehr von gedanklichen, motivischen und spielerischen Abenteuern Ablenkung fände. Wir schreiben erst Anfang Mai und lassen bereits jetzt eine Platte des Jahres zirkulieren!
felix

TAZ - DIE TAGESZEITUNG (Germany, 02/23/2022)
Zwei Klarinetten, keine Melodien, viele Nebengeräusche: Beim Berliner Duo The International Nothing ist mehr oder minder klar, was die beiden Echtzeitmusiker Kai Fagaschinski und Michael Thieke an ihren Instrumenten verrichten. Dass jede neue Platte gleichwohl neue Freuden bereitet, liegt daran, dass auch ein noch so eng gesetzter ästhetischer Rahmen genügend Raum für Variationen lässt. Siehe das allseits beliebte Drone-Duo Sunn O))).
Wie auf ihrem Album „In Doubt We Trust“ von 2018 haben sich The International Nothing für „Just None of Those Things“ auf eine einzige lange Komposition verlegt. Was kurze Pausen zwischendurch nicht ausschließt, Abwechslung schon gar nicht. Überhaupt ist die Fülle an Klängen bemerkenswert, die sie bei aller Selbstbeschränkung gut 42 Minuten entfalten. Von dichten Multiphonics, das heißt Mehrklängen mit Obertönen, über reines Pusten, Atemgeräusche, Klappengeklapper und mikrotonale Frequenzreibereien bis hin zu Kombinationstönen, bei denen man aus dem Zusammenspiel zweier bestimmter Töne einen zusätzlichen dritten hervorbringt, offenbart der scheinbar ereignislos gleichbleibende Fluss bei genauerem Hinhören eben doch eine klare Struktur aus verschiedenen Teilen.
Die Grenze von Ton und Geräusch bleibt stets unscharf; diese Unschärfe ist schließlich eines der Dinge, um die die Musik von The International Nothing von jeher kreist. „Just None of These Things“ feiert die feinen Unterschiede des Wahrnehmens auf nüchtern faszinierende Weise.
by Tim Caspar Boehme

FIELD NOTES (Berlin, 02/2022)
The »psychoacoustic« clarinet duo The International Nothing is made up of the Berlin artists Kai Fagaschinski and Michael Thieke, who obviously have more in common than just their sparkling linguistic wit. »Just None of Those Things« is a long composition rich in detail that shows the two of them at their—literally—dizzying best. Who is playing where and are those really just two clarinets? Questions over questions, but in the end there is only one certainty: this is the most elegant, meticulous musical mindfuck of the year.

BLOW UP (Italy, 02/2022)
In tempi di file audio, download, musica liquida e massima dispersione, l’aver concentrato vent’anni di produzione artistica in soli cinque album è già di per sé un atto rivelatore, esemplificativo dello spirito che ha sin qui guidato il processo compositivo di The International Nothing. Il rigore, il controllo, la sintesi caratterizzano da sempre un suono che in „Just None of Those Things“ si muove a ondate successive, sospinto dal soffio vitale dei clarinetti di Michael Thieke e Kai Fagaschinski lungo una rotta che offre sempre una moltitudine di soluzioni possibili, originando dalla tradizione del jazz europeo più radicale e dai fondamenti del minimalismo per approdare a un’anomala idea di , laddove la natura acustica degli strumenti sembra confondersi col linguaggio dell’elettronica generando illusori glitch e drones. È un mondo evanescente, impalpabile, alimentato dal respiro nelle trasparenze come nel dettaglio di figure plastiche e sinuose che prendono corpo con la consueta studiata gradualità, come in un rituale magico volto all’evocazione della forma perfetta. Ancora una volta, musica sapientemente dosata, viva e fluente, preziosa. (8)
by Massimiliano Busti

ALL ABOUT JAZZ (UK, 02/2022)
Hey, another four years have passed so it must be time for a new album from The International Nothing! Sure enough, here it is, bang on time. Just None of Those Things is the fifth album by the Berlin-based clarinet duo of Kai Fagaschinski and Michael Thieke; the first, Mainstream (Ftarri, 2006), was the only one of the five on which the clarinettists were joined by guest players—including vocalists Margaret Kammerer and Christof Kurzmann with whom they had formed the group The Magic I.D. which recorded the wonderful Til My Breath Gives Out (Erstpop, 2008); the only other deviant was The Power of Negative Thinking (Monotype, 2016) on which the clarinets were joined by bass and drums, and so it was credited to 'The International Nothing (... and something)' and released on a different label. All six albums come in sleeves depicting animals, distinctively designed by Tanabemse, which gives them a strong feeling of belonging together.
Fagaschinski says that the four-year gaps are not because he and Thieke wait so long to release an album but because they work so much on it. For two-and-a-half years the duo worked on Just None of Those Things, more obsessed than ever by their new long-form composition, the album's title (and only) track, which runs for forty-two-and-a-half minutes. The pair's last album, In Doubt We Trust (Ftarri, 2018) also comprised a single track, their first to have done so. On Just None of Those Things Fagaschinski's clarinet is heard on the right channel, Thieke's on the left. With no electronic manipulation, overdubs or improvisation, what we hear is the two clarinettists playing the music as they had worked out over those two-and-a-half years. The separation of the two clarinets is vital as listeners get to hear and savour the detailed interactive dialogue between the two players as they subtly combine the sounds of their clarinets into one integrated voice.
On the evidence so far, it is tempting to label this as The International Nothing's best album to date. However, as all their albums are essential in different ways, that temptation is best avoided. One thing is certain, though—while it is very likely to be 2026 before another album is released by The International Nothing, Just None of Those Things has plenty to keep listeners satisfied until then. Simply beautiful music.
by John Eyles

BAD ALCHEMY (BA #113, Germany, 02/2022)
Ach, diesmal ganz ohne Glockengeläut,
ohne das Verrückte, das man partout nicht bereut?
Kein trip to the moon on gossamer wings?
Obwohl die beiden Nichtslinge,
Fagaschinski rechts, Michael Thieke links,
doch zur Spezies der Gefiederten gehören
und, ich möcht' darauf schwören,
ganz das Zeug haben, den Mond zu betören?
Zwar nicht mit Frankies Nonchalance
und nat-king-zartem Summen,
aber mit Klarinettenschnäbeln,
schneeeulensanften, kakadukrummen.
Für Sinuswellen, Kind freier Gedanken
(und einiger dummen),
mit Tremolo und helldunklem Schwanken.
Mit pulsend monotonem Ton
als chiaroskures Schwingen und Tuten,
das, wie Morgensterns Fisch, in dunklen Fluten
Blasen wirft. Nennt's Nachtgesänge,
nennt's Hauch über Wipfeln, Kai F. spinnt Fäden
von erstaunlicher Länge.
Oder auch, ganz eng zusammen,
Klänge, die so anmuten,
als würden sie von Ventilen
stammen,
nicht ganz dichten, versteht sich. Ist das Flöten,
ist das Gurren, dieses große Lalula? Dieses
Tönen der Luft, wie von Mund gemalt, in subtilen
Frequenzen?
Diese Love Affair mit den immensen
Reizen des Coolen
und jener hauchzarten Gespinste, die Spider-Silk heißen,
woraus die Elben Tarnkappen weben,
während die somnambulen
von ihnen lieber Mondlicht verwenden.
Der eine, der Thieke, zeigt spitze Ohren
bei Porta Chiusa, The Pitch
und Der lange Schatten, der andere,
ob mit The Elks als Wiederholungstäter,
mit The Dogmatics fernab von Kitsch
oder mit Seamus Cater,
ist wirklich elbisch geboren.
Doch vor noch nem Reim, 'nem lahmen,
und eh schon unausgegoren,
sag ich Good-bye, Dears, und Amen.
Ich bin kein Cole Porter, reimen ist nicht mein Ding,
doch um eure Sache zu loben,
dazu braucht's kein I-Ging.
by Rigobert Dittmann

FREEJAZZBLOG (global, 02/24/2022)
Every three or four years the Berlin-based clarinet duo The International Nothing reminds the innocent listeners about the merits of corporate nihilism and somehow associating these dubious statements with artwork of friendly wild animals, always designed by Tanabemse. Just None of Those Things, the sixth album (and the fifth for the Japanese label Fatrri, which means two people in Japanese, 二人) of the duo - Michael Thieke and Kai Fagaschinski - continues this more than two decades remarkable tradition The album was conceived between 2019 and 2021, and recorded by Thieke at Fagaschinski’s living room in Berlin-Kreuzberg on two dates in June 2021.
This album distills more than ever the duo’s obsession with their own long-form compositions. Thieke and Fagaschinski always focused on multilayered sound sculpting, multiphonics, beat frequencies and difference tones as an integral part of their language and performed with great detail, precision and subversive sense of humor. They still sound like a collective entity, blurring the dimensions of time and space with their great attention for weightless statis. The 42-minute title composition, with only the acoustic clarinets of Fagaschinski on the right channel and Thieke on the left one, plays with air like a delicate, tactile sonic matter. This arresting, meditative piece often sounds like an abstract, futurist and psychedelic piece for minimalist electronics. But these gifted improvisers sculpt, color and layer, and investigate carefully in their own commanding poetic manner its primordial, subtle ethereal qualities, further down into the abyss of weirdness and nothingness. At least until The International Nothing will have more breaking news about the nature of humankind and the future of this planet.
by Eyal Hareuveni

RADIO STUDENT (Slovenia, 02/2022)
»In Nothing I Trust« bi lahko rekel ob rednem spremljanju berlinskega dua klarinetitov THE INTERNATIONAL NOTHING, ki ga tvorita znana berlinska klarinetista, improvizatorja KAI FAGASCHINSKI in MICHAEL THIEKE. Duet sta osnovala že l. 2000 in se skozi šest plošč, in številnih koncertv preko začetnih improvizacij spustila v intenzivnejše komponiranje, ki poteka empirično, ob igranju in predvsem poslušanju, ne pa že preko vnaprej zastavljenih idej in zasnutkov. Komponira se torej s spominom, gestami in poustvarjanjem le tega preko zvočnega zapisa. Pri tem sta Fagaschinski in Thieke ustvarila prepoznavno zvensko govorico, ki zvensko in harmonsko vedno sloni na večglasjih ter harmonskih pulziranjih, dolgih tonih in pretanjenih piših ter uporabi razširjenih tehnik igranja ter skrajnemu drobnosluhu, preko katerega utelešeta različne psihoakustične učinke v zvenski materiji. Na plošči In Doubt We Trust iz l. 2018 sta prvič utelesila daljšo kompozicijo, v kateri imenitno osredinjata njun subtilni zven in piš skozi tišino, premolke, harmonska sozvočja, psihoakustične fenomene in šume. Obenem ohranjata vso krhkost, občasno prečeno s hrapavostjo, intenzivnostjo in zgoščanjem zvena, ter svojstveno toplino, skozi katero včasih pronicajo zasenčene, nakazane, slutene melodije. Nova plošča, izdana pri japonski založbi Ftarri, je zopet z njunim odličnim smislom za ironijo naslovljena Just None Of Those Things in je nastala v intimnem okolju stanovanja v Berlinu, ki ga pozimi ogreva peč. Skladba je spet tekoče prelivanje različnih zvenskih epizod, skozi katere dvojec vstopa v različe ciklične sekcije, fraze, motive, teksture, v mikrozvočnosti, ki jih nato mojstrsko v dlakocepski a minimalistični maniri pregiba in prekriva, ustvarja nežna pulziranja, ritmiziranja, drsenja in »iz nič ustvari vse«; zvensko bogat in raznolik zvočni svet...
by Luka Zagoričnik

MUSIC MAPS (Italy, 03/2022)
Per raccontarvi il disco del duo The International Nothing, uscito per la Ftarri Records, si può giocare col titolo: “Just none of these things”, “nessuna di queste cose”, che è un'unica performance di 42 minuti. Cosa stiamo ascoltando?
Sembrano dei suoni prolungati di organo a canne. A volte pare drone music, elettronica ambientale. Dei surreali sibili penetranti, a volte intriganti come effetti di fantascienza, a volte fastidiosi come acufeni. A volte rilassanti oscillazioni binaurali. A volte sentiamo solo aria, come vapori profumati che escono da tubi in una sauna termale. O cos'è? Ah, ecco: sono le valvole della caldaia del vicino. Ma che sei grullo? Che caldaia c'ha il tuo vicino? Icché l'è allora? Un ti saprei dire se mi garba oppure no. Ma non è questo il punto.
L'approccio è chiaramente sperimentale, nel senso che proprio il duo, lungo questi 42 minuti, altro non fa che sperimentare un susseguirsi di effetti, che simulano un qualcosa che resta volutamente amorfo, non si struttura mai. Ciò che sorprende non è l'esito, perché esistono già tanti musicisti elettroacustici, ed elettronici, che fanno questo, spippolando le manopole di Moog, computer e forni a microonde. Quel che sorprende sono gli strumenti utilizzati, per ottenere questi suoni misteriosi. E chell'è allora? Una pianola Bontempi attaccata alle pinze della batteria dell'auto? Un frattale trasposto in suoni da Brian Eno? Un'installazione da museo, con gli schermi a led che emettono sfrigolii vari? Just none of these things: sono solo due clarinetti!
by Gilberto Ongaro

Musique Machine (UK, 03/2022)
Here we're revisiting the blessed fields of minimalism once again, and this time it’s with Just None of Those Things from The International Nothing, a psycho-acoustic clarinet duo. The Berlin-based project brings together Michael Thieke and Kai Fagaschinski. Their work is released by the Japanese label Ftarri, spanning, so far, with seven albums released to date, with this being their latest.
Recorded by Thieke in Fagaschinski's living room in Kreuzberg, Berlin, between June 21st and 25th, 2021- the outcome is raw and warm, with a live sensation that sounds primordial, as in a deep state of meditation. The limitations of recording non-electric instruments in a household landscape are intentionally adapted, adding more audible elements. Worked on for two and a half years, The International Nothing worked focused on this long composition. With the two clarinets expressing their sound materiality, without any overdubs, or any electronic manipulation.
Just None of Those Things kicks in with what resembles an exotic interlude but quickly transforms (and settles) into something more “concrete”. Throughout, the work is pure minimalist, true to Robert Morris’ description of the form: “an extreme form of abstract art, typified by artworks composed of simple geometric shapes, based on the square and the rectangle”.
The tonal drones are fluent and geometric, as in a Euclidian paradise, so precise and the equivalent of floating leaves in a natural habitat. Shapes with confronting trajectories and curves move towards each other eventually colliding. While the sonic imprint is big, the details chosen to be shared are tiny, yet very much important and full; we are listening to just a glimpse of Thieke and Fagaschinski sonic terrain and that is rewarding in itself.
Just None of Those Things is sentimentally charged in its conception (as expected), blissed in a naturalist point of view, ventures forth “traditionally”, emancipated like the crystal-clear mountainous water. Multi-layered, fragmental and equalized romanticism, where frequencies march heavenly throughout the works forty-two-minute duration.
The release is presented with a painted artwork of birds against a grey sky and blue leafed backdrop by the visual artist Tanabemse. Poetry for the eyes, leading to poetry for the ears. The CD version is already released, with the vinyl being released sometime in September 2022.
by Karl Grümpe

Squid's Ear (USA, 08/2022)
The International Nothing is a clarinet partnership consisting of hypersensitive instrumentalists Michael Thieke and Kai Fagaschinski. Since the beginning, they have been experimenting with the quivering spaces between (mainly) calm and soft tones superimposed in the midst of utter stillness. The recommendation for moderate listening volume, and the fact that Just None of Those Things was recorded in Fagaschinski's living room, confirm the artists' attentiveness in that field of restrained investigation.
Rather interestingly, analogous projects recurrently generate different outcomes when heard through speakers versus headphones. Despite a "collectively composed" matrix and a reasonably homogeneous structure, the material features a diversification of timbral and dynamic nuances, provided that you're not searching for dramatic extremes. It is clear that instant concepts are taking shape, as they manifest practically right away after the players have taken a few deep breaths and leave the clarinets to talk.
An invisible radiation is moved in a silent environment by contiguous pitches, partial oscillations, and some segment's implicitly pulsing solutions. However, when headphones are on, those emanations can completely fill the ear canals and produce minute vibrations in the skull bone without being unduly loud. The most exquisite colors are defined by the palest hues, when the note is hardly audible and its outlines barely discernible. At these times, the subtle virtuosity of Fagaschinski and Thieke emerges unequivocally.
It is comforting to witness the acoustic conversation of two workmates who also value the opportunity to share knowledge and incorporate our individual aural perspective into their studies. Exactly as in the duo's previous output, this disc offers music that appears minimalist on the surface yet contains intangible gems that are infused with inner peacefulness. It's the sonic picture of a quiet place from which to project one's own desire for a genuine improvement.
by Massimo Ricci

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The International Nothing Berlin, Germany

The International Nothing is a psycho-acoustic clarinet duo formed by Michael Thieke and Kai
Fagaschinski in 2000. They collectively compose multilayered sound sculptures using multiphonics, beat frequencies
and difference tones as an integral part of their language. The duo released five albums on the Japanese Ftarri Label and played concerts in Europe, East Asia and North and South America.
... more

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