Christian Kobi: Cathedral

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Artist: Christian Kobi
Title: Cathedral
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Buh Records
Cathedral is a single 34-minute experimental piece comprised solely of solo saxophone and prominant feedback from Swiss-based Christian Kobi that will put off many listeners within the first five minutes thanks to the early squealing, shrieking sounds that jars right through your teeth. If you can’t stand the sound of nails down a blackboard, you’ll be reaching for the playback stop button very quickly. And that would be a shame, because if you’re willing to hold out until (or skip to) around the six minute mark, things settle down somewhat and the lower, slower textures of the sax begin to shine through. By the twelve minute mark, it’s positively sedentary, beautifully recorded to show the expressive husky reverberence of a saxophone in extreme close-up detail.

A second lease of life comes halfway through, with the sax jumping from almost trad-sounding jazz, to more squealing and dog-frustrating sounds (don’t say I didn’t warn you), down to lowest-register drone hums, in fairly quick order.

It was recorded in 2019 in the former Swisscom high-bay warehouse- “probably the largest underground space in Berne”- and officially it’s the last part in a trilogy, after releases in 2010 and 2013. I haven’t heard those other two releases though so can’t comment on its effectiveness as a triptych. However I would say that 34 minutes seems just about right for the concept, and it neither overstays nor understays its welcome.

In old-fashioned avantgarde fashion it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, to put it mildly, but if you have the high tolerance required to get past the initial gateway, it’s certainly worth delving into for half an hour.

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