Jazz Atelier Ulrichsberg concert review (April 1st, 2018)

“Der Bratschist Frantz Loriot, der Kontrabassist Sean Ali und der Drummer und Perkussionist Carlo Costa entwickeln ihre Sounds aus kleinststrukturierten Anfängen am Rande des Hörbaren. Anfangs erscheinen die Klangpixel wie zufällig hingeworfen, dann folgt das Konzert einer stringenten Logik. Aus scheinbarem Chaos zieht sich ein sanftes Pulsieren wie ein Ariadnefaden durch die ausgedehnten Stücke. Es wirkt leichtfüßig, ja fast verspielt, und dennoch ist die Musik nachvollziehbar und transparent. Häufig entfernen sich die drei von der konventionellen Klangerzeugung auf ihren Geräten, bleiben aber akustisch und verzichten völlig auf elektronische Modulation. Vieles bewegt sich am Rande zum Geräusch ohne jemals lärmend zu sein, eher reduziert, intim, fast ein wenig in sich gekehrt.”


Environ Reviews:

Citizen Jazz

“Environ est de ces disques qui demandent à s’apprivoiser. On y entre pas forcément facilement si l’on souhaite s’accrocher à des arpents de mélodies ou des contreforts de rythmes. Mais si l’on se laisse emporter par l’impeccable spatialisation du son, par le climat hypnotique construit par Natura Morta, on découvrira toutes sortes de beautés infimes, brutes et parfois délicieusement irritantes. Frantz Loriot nous a souvent surpris, notamment dans la noirceur de sa collaboration avec Tobias Meier. La virulence de la lumière de Natura Morta est différente, mais pas si opposée. Il est toujours question de cette soi-disant mauvaise herbe qui pousse dans les jardins mal fréquentés. On a appris depuis longtemps que ce sont habituellement les plus belles, les plus odorantes et surtout, les plus résistantes.” (January 28, 2018)

Percorsi Musicali

“La bagarre improvvisativa tende a creare sensazioni aurali di tipo biologico e giacché i temi viaggiano negli scenari immaginativi del movimento di polveri, vento e miceli, la musica non può far altro che risentire della dinamicità espressiva per tali argomenti. I pregi di Environ si trovano nella bella pianificazione acustica delle interazioni, nella registrazione che rende grazia a suoni che altrimenti, in uno spazio qualunquistico di esibizione, non avrebbero trovato giustizia e soprattutto in una efficiente addomesticazione del carattere trasmissivo degli strumenti” (December 9, 2017)

Vital Weekly

It is incredible what a rich acoustical sound world these musicians create with their instruments without using a battery of tools and gadgets to expand their sounds. The trio surely concentrates on colouring by creating beautiful and sensitive sounds. But of course it is not just a succession of sounds they produce. These sounds serve as ingredients for very concentrated and communicative improvisations. What appears as a wilderness of sounds becomes a structured and focused work when your eyes (= ears) get used to it. ‘Ventus’ is a very dramatic and moving improvisation. ‘Mycelia’is a fantastic percussion dominated sound improvisation inspired by the visualization of the fungal underground networks. From start to finish a very fascinating and sublime work!” (November 27, 2017) 


Le complesse strutture in costante evoluzione, edificate attraverso intrigate combinazioni acustiche, costruiscono paesaggi sonori vividi e ribollenti che alternano frangenti in cui dominano attenti incastri minimali a deflagranti spirali di convulsa coralità che nel loro complesso lasciano emergere platealmente una raggiunta profonda sinergia tra i musicisti.” (October 2, 2017)


“Hier wird für mich wiederum klar verständlich, warum feine Tonträger nicht nur abhängig sind von inspirierten, zusammengespielten MusikerInnen, sondern auch von TonmeisterInnen, die sie gezielt einfangen, herausarbeiten und in detaillierter Arbeit in Position zueinander setzen. (...) Die Musiker verstehen hier, mit offenen Ohren, Abstraktionswillen, pulsierenden Ausgangs- wie Endpunkten, brillanten Spieltechniken eine Welt zu er schaffen, die in ihren Schichten durchlässig wie auch vielschichtig sich zu erkennen gibt. Die Katzen gehen an diesem Regentag von einem Fenster zum anderen und spitzen die Ohren. Empfehlung!” (August 30, 2017)

Chicago Reader

“Its three extended works bustle with all sorts of rubbing, scratching, thwacking, and thrumming, so that it's occasionally difficult to tell who's doing what: I hear the squeaks of a bow on Styrofoam, plucked strings in gnarled, crab-clawed bunches, strident patterns of sibilant grinding, abrasive arco playing flecked with harmonics, bowed cymbals, and more. That might suggest a whole lot of noise and not much else, but the trio meticulously blend their sounds and tone colors with a keen ear toward timbre, sometimes adopting more conventional musical roles to give the evolving pieces extra shape and drama.” (July 28, 2017)

Jazz Right Now

“Natura Morta’s Environ (Neither/Nor Records) released early this year, is a fusion of musical purity and avant-garde noise expression. Environ is pure in the way the band works with a limited amount of instruments to create such a wide range of sound. The album features Frantz Loriot on viola, Sean Ali on bass, and Carlo Costa on drums/percussion. There is a simplicity throughout the album; a product of three musicians and their stripped-down sound. While each instrument is discernible, Natura Morta reconstructs conventional sound and creates a kind of wild landscape, where we hear the strings and drums morphing into abstracted forms. Here, a strumming of the bass changes to a vigorous scraping and soon we begin to question whether we are still listening to the same instrument. Costa’s drumming on the album creates a similar effect.” (July 20, 2017)


“Wszyscy trzej muzycy zaangażowani w rozmaite projekty nie zapominają też o wspólnym przedsięwzięciu jakie połączyło ich muzyczne osobowości przed kilku laty. To właśnie Natura Morta, formacja której nowy album "Environ" wypełniają 3 kilkunastominutowe rozbudowane formy, będące rodzajem improwizacyjnych dźwiękowych rzeźb.” (July 17, 2017)


Decay Review on the New York City Jazz Record, Clifford Allen (11/1/2014)

“Natura Morta is the trio of Costa, Ali and French violist Frantz Loriot (based in Zurich, active in New York for some time). Decay was recently waxed for the British improvised music label FMR, and is the group’s third and most widely available recording thus far. The closing “As the Dawn Fades” is a fine introduction to their music, recalling the Gagaku inclinations of late ‘60s Spontaneous Music Ensemble in its meditative, scrabbled processional as Costa makes gestured sweeps from gongs, singing bowls and drums, punctuated by muted, aggressive scrapes and woody thwacks. Col legno patter and below-the-bridge plucks from Ali’s bass are part of the ritualistic, colorful cycles that the trio explores, with high harmonics and brusque flits that belie their specific instrumental origins. A landscape of bowed metal, measured and condensed strikes and guttural drones make up the tough “Miasmata”, closer to the Gravity Adjusters Expansion Band or Ensemble Musique Vivante (and thus the contemporary composition realm) than free music and speaks to the structured intensity of Natura Morta’s shared language.”

Decay Review on Musica Jazz, Sandro Cerini (8/1/2014, print only)

“...appare evidente che i tre musicisti abbiano raggiunto un rilevante grado di integrazione, affinando un linguaggio molto personale – anche a partire dalla trasfigurazione dei timbri originari dei propri strumenti, spesso irriconoscibili. (...) degno di nota è il drumming scuro e suggestivo di Costa.”

Decay Review on Free Jazz Blog, Stef Gjissels (7/26/14)

“After their self-titled debut, this is Natura Morta's second CD, again with the same trio of Frantz Loriot on viola, Sean Ali on double bass and Carlo Costa on percussion. In a way, they perfect their approach: stretched sounds on the strings are supported by sparse percussive interaction.

You can only say this: it is intense, very intense, hypnotic even at moments and utterly strange, beautiful, horrifying and compelling. The trio's great quality is the incredible amount of restraint demonstrated to conjure up a vast atmosphere of desolation. It is fascinating to hear completely improvised pieces that are so coherent. (****)”

Decay Review on Touching Extremes, Massimo Ricci (5/26/14)

Another meritorious outing by Natura Morta after their debut EP in 2012. Decay contains four considerate improvisations devised with absolute dignity, the trio making the most of deceptively frail structures as the music – though never exceeding certain dynamic thresholds – results gifted with vital strength to spare (the record’s title notwithstanding, one would say). In “Sirens”, distinguished by a plenitude of upper partials enriching asymmetrically cadenced materials, the voices palpitate and overlap; a relatively placid opening gradually reveals interesting outgrowths inside an abrasive fabric of unresolved dissonances. “Miasmata” is perhaps the part that truly bewitches me, a fine balance of efficacious frequencies with a correct dosage of self-examination. It crackles and creaks like an old wooden stairway about to crumble, toneless noises and strained scrubbing delineating an unwelcoming environment. This episode is also defined by simple percussive figurations founded on cymbals and tuned drums expanding their speed and reach with the passage of time. “The Burial Of Memories” is, at over 18 minutes, the lengthiest track on offer. Beginning with shrilling metallic scrapes to continue with a variety of rarefied events, clattering manipulations and unblemished juxtapositions, the piece resembles a ritual performed by three humble scientists turned shamans for a night, the whole ending with a brief crescendo that instantly disappears, pointing us towards the ultimate silence. “As The Dawn Fades” is entirely constructed upon ringing drops (reminiscent, in a way, of Kraftwerk’s “Kling Klang”), ample breathing spaces warranted to conclude a judiciously low-key album. Absorption and eventual acceptance come rather naturally, in small stages.”

Decay Review on Le Son Du Grisli, Guillaume Belhomme (5/13/14)

“Levant le nez : c’est tout un parc qui avait été aménagé à mes pieds. Avant de repartir, le trio y a planté des graines et enterré des œufs. Le Decay de Natura Morta, je m’y promènerai encore. Je compterai sur la brise pour faire tourner ses instruments, sur les frêles oiseaux qui s’y ébattent pour lui ajouter des touches et des variantes. Si la nature a horreur du vide, elle ne craint pas le silence. Ni les bruits quotidien qui ne cessent plus de le révéler.”

Decay Review on Just Outside, Brian Olewnick (5/10/14)

“... Here, the trio remains consistent, sticking with the "groove" (very high, scratchy bass scrabblings, nervous, high viola pluckings and agitated, thin percussion) fora good while, transitioning into a similarly toned, more percussive area. Roiling yes, but never over-busy, instead creating a prickly carpet that ably covers all of its 18 minutes plus, very nice. The cover image isn't a bad analogy. The final piece stays in that gently ringing percussive zone (through much of this, oddly, I though that the music was often something Roscoe Mitchell could have done but never did, this track included), soft and restrained, the sounds well spaced and just varied enough.

A good recording--I'll be curious to see if they move on from this.”

Decay Review on Jazz Right Now, Cisco Bradley (4/23/14)

“The title of this album, Decay, is appropriate for the sounds it contains. Each of the four pieces is a different foray into that theme, pushing, unraveling, delving through sounds to create a great deal of space, movement, and distance in the music. (...) It’s as if we are witnessing an aural slideshow of dying surfaces–withered skin, old animal hides, bark beginning to peel. There is an everyday-ness to the sounds, even as they are unusual or even unexpected. These surfaces are everything and nothing, like the summit of mountains, we fall under their enchantment, giving them our full attention without considering the great mass that lies beneath. (...) The three musicians featured here are pushing the very limits of their instruments while constructing an engaging narrative through their music, one that is highly abstract, yet personal.”

Decay Review on Scrivere di Jazz, Giuseppe Mavilla (2/26/14)

“Anche qui si viaggia ai confini tra suoni e rumori, una combinazione prediletta dal trio che ama esplorare le possibili relazioni tra i due elementi in un ambito assolutamente acustico. Suoni urbani che interferiscono con i bagliori estremi di strumenti acustici come la viola e il contrabbasso, intercettando o lasciandosi intercettare dai vagiti percussivi dell’italiano Costa. Suoni estremi, a volte ostinati come a sfidare la sensibilità e la tenacia di ogni possibile ascoltatore. Suoni stridenti che cercano un dialogo, un’attinenza tra di loro, che puntano a generare in molti casi un flusso continuo dove non alberga alcun tipo di armoniosità, mentre in altri momenti si naviga nelle acque stagnati di un minimalismo rarefatto. E’ evidente che tutto si svolge all’insegna dell’improvvisazione, di stimoli impulsivi, con nulla di preordinato ma nell’ambito di una dialettica in costante divenire. Un mondo sonoro affascinante e stimolante per ogni intraprendente ascoltatore, una espressività che guarda al futuro, un trio che ama le sfide e gli inediti orizzonti di un pentagramma inusuale stilato, di volta in volta, con lucida passione e libero arbitrio.”


EP Review on Free Jazz Blog, Stef Gjissels (9/20/12)

“... new elements and suddenly emerging sounds (...) are a source of menace, adding an increase of tension, not actually assaulting the listener - the volume is too low for that - but adding a layer of danger - undefined like creaking floorboards - creating an anticipation of the inevitable doom. The album is short, some thirty minutes only, but really worth looking for. (****)”

EP Review on Le Son Du Grisli, Guillaume Belhomme (9/12/12)

C’est un disque court mais sur mesures (...) Lorsqu’ils ne sont pas préparés, les instruments tournent le dos aux techniques traditionnelles – à défaut d’être rare, la cause est ici au moins justifiée...

EP Review on Point of Departure’s, Bian Morton(9/4/12)

“(...) this unusually convened trio (...) offers blood and sinew as well as moments of dewy loveliness. (...) As the title promises, form and “composition” are central here...”

EP Review on Musica Jazz (9/1/12)

“Poco più di mezz’ora durano i quattro lavori contenuti in questo disco, registrati a Brooklyn nel Gennaio del 2012. Sono improvvisazioni che i tre riescono con determinazione e perfetta calma a distillare dall’universo del rumore nonostante usino strumenti tradizionali (Loriot la viola, Ali il basso e Costa – un romano che da tempo lavora a NewYork – la batteria). Appropriato è il titolo: i suoni che ascoltiamo sembrano quelli che precedono immediatamente la sparizione nel silenzio. Di quali vite? Di quali cose, sembrerebbe essere la domanda più appropriata. Costa e i compagni fanno comunque molto sul serio; e questo è indubitabile (G.D.B.).”

EP Review by Ken Waxman on New York City Jazz Record’s July 2012 Issue, and on Jazz Word (7/6/12)

“Using only acoustic instruments, the members of Natura Morta replicate the harsh textures of musique concrète with juddering crunches, abrasive squeaks and vibrating pops. Eschewing amplification, the Brooklyn-based trio of violist Frantz Loriot, bassist Sean Ali and drummer Carlo Costa operate in a dense landscape where extended techniques and instantaneous timbral actions reconfigure their instrument’s conventional timbres into sometimes unidentifiable pieces of a jagged sound picture. (...) Daring and inventive on their debut, the members of Natura Morta are sure to be heard - and heard of - again in this or other configurations.”

EP review on Lucid Culture, Alan Young (6/22/12)

“(...) In its own extremely well-conceived, twisted and defiantly perverse way, it’s a tremendously compelling listen...”

EP Review on Monsieur Délire, François Couture (5/30/12)

“(...) Delicate arco on strings, sound events that may seem unrelated, but slowly weave their own shared meaning in the course of each track. Artistically successful.”

EP Review on Dustin Carlson’s Blog (5/28/12)

Enter the aural space of Natura Morta and be overtaken by delicately crafted realms of disturbing sonic experience. (...) Soothing, industrial soundscapes are created by the musicians’ use of drones, bells, and gently bowed strings. (...) It is impossible to parcel out the sounds each musician is making in these live recordings. Franz Loriot’s viola flitters and squeals into the sonic territory inhabited by Sean Ali’s howling bass. Bells ring, surfaces grumble - occasionally a low thud clues us in: we are hearing Carlo Costa’s approach to playing the drums. (...) mysterious, dark and intriguing.”

EP Review on Touchin Extremes, Massimo Ricci (5/26/12)

“(...) This, their first statement on disc (another, already recorded, is coming out within a few months) is a perspicaciously concise exploration of several aspects of the interrelation between timbre and dynamics. (...) it is acoustically gratifying, sturdily physical and delicate at once, and serious (minus the ostentation).”

EP Review on Scrivere di Jazz, Giuseppe Mavilla (5/26/12)

“(...) La relazione instaurata dal trio è intensa per tutta la durata della suite, che supera di poco i trenta minuti nell’ arco dei quattro brani, e alla fine ci si rende conto di trovarsi  ad ascoltare un’opera coraggiosa, estrema e che anticipa il futuro della musica creativa.”

EP Review on Buscando un Nombre (Tomajazz), Pachi Tapiz (5/4/12)

Natura Morta (a saber Frantz Loriot, Sean Ali y Carlo Costa) juegan en su estreno discográfico homónimo con sus instrumentos (viola, contrabajo y batería respectivamente) utilizando técnicas distintas a las establecidas por la ortodoxia. Los cuatro temas que componen el disco muestran diferentes maneras de construir paisajes sonoros, en un trabajo en el que los cuatro músicos si bien no parece que huyan de las melodías, tampoco tienen ningún problema aparente en no encontrarlas. Sus improvisaciones libres se plantean con unas estructuras muy interesantes. A pesar de la total libertad de que disponen los músicos para crear estas composiciones instantáneas, durante muchos momentos trabajan en la misma dirección, hacia un mismo objetivo...”

EP Review on Downtown Music Gallery, Bruce Lee Gallanter (5/4/12)

“... The playing is most carefully crafted and quite effective at evoking lost spirits floating or communing. Time seems to stand still as we focus on the way the textures slowly shift into other worlds. A strange brew indeed.”

Review of a concert with special guest Laurie Amat in 22 Magazine (4/9/12)

“The final performers Natura Morta take the stage. The fire has burned down to a pile of smoldering embers. Many people are clearing out for the night but to assume the slow burn is not the one of the most dynamic portions of the evening would be a mistake. Made up of Sean Ali on contrabass, Carlo Costa on drums, and Frantz Loriot on viola, Natura Morta utilizes all that is left of burning mound and their self-professed “heated silences” are as compelling as their undefinable sounds, made from prepared instruments and unprepared musical structures. Loriot taps on his viola, while Ali rubs his hands on the bass, caressing and patting its curves. Laurie takes center stage and her cues brilliantly from the clockwork construction-squeaks, bumps, meows, wind gushes with the combination of mouth, glass tubes, wood objects and hands. The beasts are coming out after the fire has burned down, sniffing out the meaning of scorched earth left behind.”