You may remember EA from the interview I conducted with emme!/Igor, but to all who don't; Eierkoch Automat stands for "testicle chef machine," and is an Italian improvisational jazz-duo. One of the members handles the drums, percussions, and samples, whereas the other one plays an array of wind instruments. 29|5 is the project's debut release, and it was recorded live using two cheap mics, all within a mere day. After finding out all those facts, I was not sure what to prepare myself for.
After a short spoken intro we're softly led to the world of EA. A clarinet executes some short, low notes, and some crude electronics provide some backing whirr. Things really get into motion as the soon as the minimalistic drum kit, consisting of both softer percussions and metal drums, starts delivering it's beats. The percussions have a somewhat softened sound due to the lo-fi recording equipment, same as the flutes albeit not as noticeably, but it only makes them fit better to the overall minimalistic soundscape. The drums still deliver all the variation they have to offer, and it means a lot due to the simplistic but effective and even bold way the drummer handles his kit. They keep on varying, and surprise the listener throughout the album.
It's the drums that set the pace and volume of the soundscape, but the variety of flutes and other wind instruments provide its atmosphere and character. Most often they don't provide a continuous melody, but something more closer to short and jazzy bursts of groove and even madness, with some longer, softer and slower notes serving to provide balance as well as contrast to them. The higher flutes provide the speedy chaos, whereas the saxophone and other lower-sounding instruments are more often used for more atmospheric and force-reliant purposes. The recording equipment brings out the bad side in this, as in some parts the saxophone just sounds plain too loud. It's not a big bugger, but something that I found to bother my listening experience.
At times the album really got to surprise me; despite being improvised, the drums deliver great patterns with a fresh sound, and the wind instruments provide a good amount of feeling that you can really identify with, be it during the faster and uncontrolled parts or the calmest ones. I just wish the wind instruments would be more bold to take the attention to themselves, as now it can be noticed that it's the drums that push the album forwards. The aforementioned is most clearly visible during the eight-minuter "EA 5" that has the drums replaced with minimalistic electronics and samples. The track is clearly too long and doesn't function due to it lacking a drive, and is not even almost saved by some of the electronic samples are really pleasing on their own.
Aside of the aforementioned fifth track, the album is a really pleasing listen and gets to surprise the listener with its amount of versatility. It shows that the band should keep on practicing to develop the interaction between the two members and their instruments, as well as to find more ways to explore their capabilities, aims and limits with the style and means they've chosen. This album is the spine of their expression, and now they should focus on finding ways to add more flesh around it. "29|5" is a noteworthy debut from an upcoming duo that isn't afraid of challenges nor exploring their limits, and I respect that. I must also commend the label for the album's handmade but still stylish (and fittingly minimal) visual side.