released June 16, 2016
The International Nothing (... and something):
Kai Fagaschinski, clarinet
Michael Thieke, clarinet
Christian Weber, double-bass
Eric Schaefer, drums & percussion
All compositions by Kai Fagaschinski (AKM), Eric Schaefer (GEMA), Michael Thieke (GEMA) and Christian Weber (SUISA), 2006 - 2011.
Recorded by Michael at ausland, Berlin, December 15th, 2011. Edited by Kai and Michael. Mixed by Christian.
Mastered by Werner Dafeldecker in Berlin, September 2015.
Cover design by tanabemse.
Supported by ske/austro mechana.
Thanks to ausland, Yoshiyuki Suzuki, tanabemse and Werner.
also available at Monotype Records (label) and Metamkine (european distributor)
"If The International Nothing are twin ghosts of Jimmy Giuffre – throbbing, intertwining clarinet chord work – then this expanded incarnation of the Berlin group might have strayed onto a Tom Waits record. Christian Weber’s string bass and Eric Schaefer’s drums propel the clarinets out of the city and into the farmyard with their ornery grooves. Schaefer’s kit in particular has a wonderful sound, like he just got back from a 1940s dance date – Cosy Cole And The Ellingtonians perhaps?
Clarinettists Kai Fagaschinski and Michael Thieke captured my attention right from the first furry discord of their 2006 debut Mainstream. Though all these four musicians are deeply involved in Berlin improvising, The Nothing project was a reaction against reductionist concerns, focused on collaborative composing with notes, harmonies and even songs: Fagaschinski and Thieke are also members of The Magic ID with singers Christof Kurzmann and Magareth Kammerer. Their three duo albums on Ftarri blend a kind of clinical, almost ruthless intelligence with the sensuous sexiness of those bristling multiphonics and difference tones. For the current release they’ve moved to the Polish Monotype label but retained Masae Tanabe, their brilliant sleeve designer.
Expanding to a quartet means a wider dynamic range, so The Nothing can ascend to ecstatic climaxes, while staying entirely committed to their twin woodwind textures. “The Golden Age Of Miscommunication” has Weber’s bass scampering through a rapid riff below a cloudscape of hovering trills and tremolos. “Nothing’s Gonna Last Forever” (see what they did there?) rumbles darkly beneath the chords – it’s funereal, but those clarinets are always tactile. The playing is refined, constructing textural curiosities inspired by electronics. Then Schaefer adds irresistible brushwork and a big old slackskinned kick drum, the sort you want never to stop. “Something Went Wrong” has Schaefer tackling a kind of dub march, eventually loosening into swing while the clarinets pump out an idée fixe fanfare. It all sounds suspiciously like Berlin having fun."
Clive Bell, THE WIRE
"The psychoacoustic clarinet duo of Michael Thieke and Kai Fagaschinski have been co-creating music of breadth and depth since 2000. Their rapport is palpable, the way they blend their sounds, hypnotic. From muted hums to whispered rasps, they alternately background and foreground one another in a seamless interchange of focus and intensities.
On The Power of Negative Thinking, the International Nothing is joined by "something" in bassist Christian Weber and drummer/percussionist Eric Schaefer, who add dimensions of timbre and rhythm to the woodwinds' mesmerizing sounds.
"We Can Name You Their Names" is nine minutes of stunning range. Opening with barely audible single tones and breath-like cymbal rolls, a spare four-note bass motif enters, while the reeds play unisons that shift microtonally in and out of tune. A simple melody is interspersed with harmonies and multiphonics before a dramatic shift comes in the form of bass and drums taking over. Then, there's a shattering entrance of super-high clarinet pitches, searingly intense, that stop suddenly, yielding to what sounds like two clarinets melting into one another over a bass/drum figure.
Overall, there is a Morton Feldman-esque minimal, restful calmness that pervades The Power of Negative Thinking. "Long Bow Glowing" is quiet, sparse and full of spaces, as long tones, microtones, beat frequencies and multiphonics appear and disappear. There isn't any development, just self-propelled change. Relaxing and warm, "Nothing's Gonna Last Forever," the album's last track, is meditative and sweet-natured.
What has characterized the International Nothing's music throughout much of their work is haunting beauty. On The Power of Negative Thinking's seven pieces, they (… and something) have it in spades."
Glen Hall, EXCLAIM
"Sinn für Humor beweist auch das blasinstrumentenbewehrte Duo The International Nothing, das bei einer Prämierung für den besten Bandnamen sehr weit vorn dabei wäre. Auf dem Album „The Power of Negative Thinking“ haben sich die beiden Klarinettisten Kai Fagaschinski und Michael Thieke mit dem Bassisten Christian Weber und dem Schlagzeuger Eric Schaefer zum Quartett vereint, was der Namenszusatz (… and Something) verdeutlicht.
Fagaschinski und Thieke erzeugen sorgsam geschichtete Mehrklänge, Differenztöne und Überlagerungsfrequenzen – vulgo krächzende Zwischengebilde, die für Hörer, die mit den Gepflogenheiten der Berliner Echtzeitmusik nicht vertraut sind, wie ausgedehntes Falschspielen klingen mögen, tatsächlich aber fein ausgelotete Erkundungen ihrer Instrumente darstellen. Weber und Schaefer geben dem schwebend-bohrenden Klang eine ganz leichte Erdung, erweitern das Spektrum nach unten. Wenn so das Negative klingt, kann es so schlecht nicht sein."
Tim Casper Boehme, TAZ