Forgotten series: Fritz Hauser – Solo Drumming (1989)

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by Mark Saleski

For those unfamiliar with Fritz Hauser, he is one of (maybe the … who knows, there’s gotta be more than one though) Switzerland’s best percussionists. He’s collaborated with many fine improvising musicians including the Kroumata Percussion Ensemble, Christy Doran and Marilyn Crispell.

My one and only Hauser recording is Solo Drumming. As the title implies, this is one long workout on the drum kit (and various other percussion instruments). Now, before you go screaming off in the other direction, you’ve gotta know that this material isn’t like, say, your typical 1970’s rock concert drum solo. Hauser takes a more minimal approach to things, maybe starting off with a spare ostinato on the snare drum and then slowly adding in other bits while picking up the pace. It’s a very unique style of play.

For every quiet and contemplative moment there are segments of almost shocking intensity. On “Klangewolke II,” for example, Hauser plays an extended press roll on the high hat that sounds like the cymbals are going to crack at any minute. And let me tell you, this man has absolutely monstrous snare technique.

The recording itself has an enormous dynamic range with just the right amount of reverb. It should. It was recorded back in the fall of 1984 at Berlin’s Martin Gropius building. Imagine the sound of a single drumhead, a single stick. Here’s the reasoning behind the musicians selected for the exhibition “Idea, Process, Result” (from Solo Drumming‘s liner notes):

On the occasions of the exhibition “Ideas, Process, Result” (Internationale Bauausstellung Berlin 84/87) we have searched for the correlation between architecture and music. Throughout the “Klangenthullungen” (Sound Revelations), as we labeled the concerts, the participating musicians developed their performances in accordance with the spatial conditions. With its long reverberation, the glass-roofed court of the Gropiusbau is a subtle partner; delicate in its silence and powerfully surging when charged up rhythmically.

Fritz Hauser has, from my point of view, made best use of its acoustical peculiarities in a most elemental way. The Sound pictures of Fritz Hauser lead from the real, limited, architectural to the insubstantial, endless space of our imagination. The symbiosis of architecture and music, in times of unlimited acoustical-synthetic possibilities, is genuine.

Sound pictures! So it’s not just me! Yay!

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to, and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at
Mark Saleski
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