Good by earth *          06:42
2. Back to Earth         04:37
3. Tempe Terra          05:38
4. Elysium Planitia      05:52
5. Valles Marineris      06:07
6. Olympus Mons *      11:45
7. Newton Basin         07:47
8. Chasma Boreale     08:18
9. Back to earth         06:52

all compositions by Maurer, Puntin, Manderscheid, Kugel except * by Albrecht Maurer

total time 64:16 - 2005

CD - Details

Das Syntopia Quartet gründete sich 2004, und veröffentlichte gleich ihr erstes Konzert als Debüt-CD. Weltweit sorgte es für Aufmerksamkeit und wurde in diversen Jazz-Charts unter den Top 10 gelistet. So war das Syntopia Quartet u. a. auf der Titelseite von Jazztokio.com und „pick of the week“ im Chikago WNUR Radio. Neben mehr als 50 Rundfunkfeatures wird es auch bei iTunes auf der Startseite des Genre Jazz präsentiert. Daneben erschienen zahlreiche Artikel in den einschlägigen Fachzeitschriften.

„Wir sind in einer musikalischen Welt gelandet, die so verschiedenartig ist, wie der rote Planet

selbst. Eine Syn/thesis musikalischer Ideen und Ideale präsentiert in einer fast u-topia-schen

Art und Weise von Streichinstrumenten und Klarinetten, immer behutsam unterstützt von

einem Rückgrat an einfühlsamer Percussion. Stilles Feuer. Harmonische Unordnung. Alle

Spieler dieses Quartetts sind beseelt von dem was sie da tun.”

Steve Dalachinsky NYC 4:37 a.m. 5/23/05

Syntopia Quartet

Albrecht Maurer - Violine

Claudio Puntin - Klarinetten

Dieter Manderscheid - Bass

Klaus Kugel - Percussion, Klangobjekte

Nemu Records nemu 001, Recorded & mixed by Albrecht Maurer, August 2003, Ev. Church Waldbröl. Mastered by Rainhard Kobialka, Topas Studio. Graphic Design & Photos by Christiane Resch. Produced by Albrecht Maurer & Klaus Kugel.



steve dalachinsky nyc 4/05

goodbye earth
crushed stay

in newton's

the colonies
lost to

tempe onum
onum tempes
in paradise
where the lamb &
lion lie

i lost you twice
& then found me

hello earth

erhältlich bei:

Nemu Records

Siebengebirgsallee 12

D- 50939 Köln

Tel. +49 221 4248353

email: mail@nemu-records.com



Jenny Otto

01573 1747675


Musiklabor Köln, eine neue Konzertreihe von Albrecht Maurer und Norbert Stein im Kunsthaus Rhenania:  musiklabor-koeln.de

Syntopia.net, mit weiteren Projekten, an denen Albrecht Maurer beteiligt ist. www.syntopia.net

Nemu Records, das Label von Albrecht Maurer und Klaus Kugel


möchten sie in den Konzertverteiler von

Albrecht Maurer aufgenommen werden, klicken Sie hier, um eine Mail zu schreiben

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Musik rund um den Mars: Der Planet Mars fasziniert seit jeher Forscher, Denker, Autoren, Filmemacher und auch Musiker. Das Syntopia Quartet hat dem roten Planeten ein ganzes Programm gewidmet, das diese Faszination in Klang umsetzt: "Eine Reise zum Mars"... "Die Schönheit der Verhältnismäßigkeit und Harmonie" lobte Dante vor 700 Jahren am Planeten Mars und der ihm zugeordneten Wissenschaft: der Musik. Betrachtet man dann noch die Namen der Marslandschaften, "Elysium Planitia" oder "Olympus Mons", dann entpuppt sich der planetarische Ausflug auch als eine Reise in die menschliche Kulturgeschichte. All das ließ das Quartett in seine Musik einfließen: Fein strukturierte Klangflächen von schwebender Harmonik wechselten mit wild rhythmisierten Ausbrüchen. Aus freien und geräuschhaften Klangballungen schien immer wieder Traditionelles auf: klassische Jazz- Harmonik in den komponierten Teilen, Anklänge an Lied- und Volksmelodien, wenn Maurer seine Violine gegen eine gotische Fidel tauschte. Auch andere Assoziationen drängten sich auf: Die fantasievollen Geräuschkulissen des Schlagzeugs und die schnarrenden Klänge der Bassklarinetten schienen streckenweise von typischen Science-Fiction-Filmsoundtracks von den 50er Jahren bis heute inspiriert zu sein... Hoch dramatisch, virtuos und von ekstatischer Freude getragen ging es am Ende "back to earth", zurück zur Erde und die Passagiere applaudieren begeistert den Piloten.

16.06.05 Von Sebastian Pantel Kultur in Wuppertal


By Glenn Astarita, All About Jazz, Feb.2006, USA

This quasi Third Stream/free jazz/chamber jazz offering is the inaugural release from Germany’s NEMU Records. With superior sound engineering enhacing the project, the strings-reeds-rhythm unit pursues minimalism, tightly structured thematic forays and adroit improvisational exercises. Many of these works are fabricated upon multi-part time divisions and the band’s excellent use of depth and space. The musicians generate sweet tones and diminutive phrasings to complement hearty injections of briskly enacted unison runs.

Violinist Albrecht Maurer’s staccato lines atop the musicians’ changeable pulses, topped off with moments of wit and whimsy, provide quite a bit of impact. At times the quartet morphs European folk themes into free jazz explorations that are awash with fervently expressed four-way exchanges. On “Tempe Terra,” they investigate dark alleys and loosely based twists and turns while also whipping up some turmoil-laden heated circular movements. In addition, clarinetist Claudio Puntin periodically fuses the human element into the music by implementing vocal-like attributes. In other spots, the artists meld abstract world music grooves and spiraling motifs with emphatic soloing. Overall, this impressive record label debut would seemingly preclude more stylistic and somewhat risqué undertakings. Recommended.

by Justin Glick, WNUR 89.3 FM, march 2006, Chicago

Pick of the Week: The first release from the brand new Berlin based label Nemu, owned and operated by Maurer and Kugel, represents an incredibly auspicious beginning. “Mars” is a beautifully unclassifiable record that blends contemporary classical with free improvisation to such an extent that it’s not always easy to tell which parts are scored and which are not. But intricacy and interplay take the forefront throughout creating a new kind of modern chamber music. Musicianship is exemplary with each player on the same page as the others at all times making this music and the album as a whole firmly gel. Highly recommended that you all try to find this one.

by Marc Medwin, One Final Note, March 2006, USA

Stringsman Albrecht Maurer, clarinetist Claudio Puntin, bassist Dieter Manderscheid, and percussionist Klaus Kugel have fashioned a beautifully chiseled and finely crafted disc for the Nemu label’s debut. We live in an era where the illusory topoi of “classical” and “jazz” have transcended the first jointly faltering steps of “third stream”, passing with less effort through Simon Fell’s “fourth stream” to a place where the merger is so much a given that it can be forgotten as it transcends itself …. This can work to stunning effect, like on the opening violin solo of “Alicium Plenitia”, where Maurer evokes a universe of overtones, harmonics, and ethnic trappings, all of which he manages to wield with skill and flare, exposing the underlying emotion rather than drawing attention to meaningless detail. Ditto for the final track, “Back to Earth”, where Manderscheid performs brilliant feats of staccato, a nice bit of delay is used on the violin, and I’m guessing that it’s Kugel who busts out the Jew’s harp. The transformation from electrified Spontaneous Music Ensemble to swingin’ hoedown bebop with violin lead works quite well …. In fact, each of these tracks functions very well on its own, presenting studies in just how integrated improv and composition have become. It’s all gorgeously recorded, and this is a fairly promising first disc from Nemu ….

by Jerome Wilson CADENCE MAGAZINE 5-2006

these currents produce more austere music. The Syntopia Quartet plays a sort of dark chamber music appropriate for the outer space theme of this CD. With an unusual front line of violin and clarinet, they sound reminiscent of the Tin Hat Trio or Dave Douglas’ Euro-centered group, Charms Of The Night Sky in their playful use of European themes and rhythms. Albrecht Maurer plays a passionate violin involved in saucy rhythmic dances while Claudio Pantin’s clarinet is often haunting or brooding. “Tempe Terra” and “Goodbye Earth” introduce a bit of American Blues into the mix while “Newton Basin” is a quick changing feast of spinning, dancing gypsy rhythms that also works in theremin-like noises and a quote from “Strangers In The Night.” The moody oddness of this CD is fascinating if you like the more Eurocentric, folkderived strains of Jazz.

by Matt Krieg 3-D Radio 93.7 FM, Australia

... It's a very impressive outing and represents exactly the type of intelligent and creative balance of composition and improvisation that I like to feature on my program, 'The Esoteric Circle'. I have already featured two tracks on my most recent program and intend to present a lot more in the following weeks. I also find the graphic presentation appealing and attractive. A great product all round. Please also send your subsequent releases to me as I am certain that the Nemu-Records sound ethic closely matches The Esoteric Circle's musical values.Thank you for sending a copy of the excellent Syntopia Quartet. I have played it a lot on my program.

by Ken Waxman, www.jazzword.com

Related at least in song titles to extra-musical concepts, these quartets extend the sound lineage far past absolute music. Although the CDs avoid sonic solipsism, you may be hard pressed to link a portrait of the Red Planet to the Syntopia Quartet’s CD. ...

Polytonal and polyphonic timbres are in sight on MARS. But for the most part this nine-track suite outlines a more formal, detached and bleak portrait than the cacophonous sonic violence you would imagine from a CD named for

god of war’s planet namesake. In the Syntopia Quartet, drummer Klaus Kugel, who works regularly with Lithuanian soprano saxophonist Petras Vysniauskas and American trombonist Steve Swell, is unobtrusive and discreet. No show-boater, he shies away from flashy – and noisy – parts of his kit. He’s more likely to be striking a bell, rattling a cymbal or patting his snares offhandedly, then overusing the bass drum or snares. Professor of double bass at Music University Köln, Dieter Manderscheid, who regularly works with soloists like saxophonist Luc Houtkamp of the Netherlands, is similarly self-effacing. His rhythm is felt more than heard. In the front line, violinist Albrecht Maurer, whose background includes early music as well as collaborations with veterans like American bassist Kent Carter, uses advanced string techniques to animate Mars’ barren landscape. Claudio Puntin, a teacher and veteran of large ensembles, showcases similar effects from both his clarinet and bass clarinet.

Throughout MARS, tempos vary from adagio to allegro, with aviary chirps from the reedist plus vibrating string double counterpoint creating a sort of languid pointillism. Klaus’s cross handed drumming melded with faster spiccato lines from Maurer plus bass clarinet glissandi can sometimes push the output to a unique baroque and Cool Jazz emulsion.

 The percussionist’s further sound expansions include a jolly jew’s harp rubber band-like twang – joined by hoedown-suggesting fiddle lines – irregular triangle pings, and knuckle-knocking drum top bounces, accompanied by Manderscheid’s ground bass continuo and surprising screeching multiphonics from the clarinetist. Legato with formal modulation most of the time, at points Puntin astonishes still further by adapting a Klezmer-styled tremolo vibrato. This encourages polyphonic triple counterpoint among the reedist and the two string players who node-stretch as his tone vibrates.

Climaxing these musical tendencies is Mauer’s almost 12-minute “Olympus Mons”, the CD’s peak, to and from which the other compositions ascend and descend. Episodic, it encompasses rococo unison work and dissonant solos and duos. Put on its path by double bass pedal point after a nearly inaudible introduction, double-stopping violin movements and reed bites convey the subsequent variation. Following resonating beats that could conceivably come from an African drum like the bugarabu or the djembe, a fluttering, almost a capella reed line turns to overblown vibrations, which are then succeeded by classically tinged double counterpoint from the strings. Splayed and sul ponticello, the double bass continuo and violin ostinato dissolve into near Baroque sounds that are capped when Mauer and Puntin combine contrapuntally

by Michael G. Nastos, www.allmusic.com 

As the debut recording for the German based Nemu label, the Syntopia Quartet establishes the identity of the label, while suggesting the European free jazz scene is far from muted or passé. Much like the FMP label documented the German improvising scene -- exemplified by Karl Berger, Peter Brötzmann, and Alexander von Schlippenbach -- drummer Klaus Kugel, who is one fourth of Syntopia and the main producer who launched Nemu, is looking to reinvent the sounds FMP established. Crossing borders of style, taste, European classicism, world or ethnic sounds, and a modern creative ethos that is more in tune with accessibility for a wider audience, Nemu and Syntopia are making truly new music. The fine players Kugel has chosen, especially violinist Albrecht Maurer and clarinetist Claudio Puntin, achieve this. They showcase unique approaches to their instruments apart from similar American musicians like Billy Bang or Chris Speed. Maurer is a fluid player who does not rely on hard line dissonance or over-stressed harmonics. Puntin, especially effective on bass clarinet, has a multi-dimensional attitude that is ultimately flexible as he displays a canny ability to listen to his bandmates and fits in beautifully. All of the characteristics stated fuse and meld on these imaginary journeys to the Red Planet. The opener „Goodbye Earth“ launches the band into a somber mood, very crafted, Euro-centric, and warily headed for the unknown. „Chryse Planitia“ is a dark, spooky place, warned by Puntin‘s clarinet to explore slowly and carefully, while „Elysium Planitia“ has Maurer‘s skittering violin in starburst, then working with Puntin in a beautiful discourse. „Valles Marineris“ is a multiple mood piece, first peaceful discovering didgeridoos in space, and enhanced by an unexpected scat vocal. This is one interesting scientific expedition. The spacy intro of „Olympus Mons“ leads to a spirited 7/8 dance body, while the sturdy violin of Maurer during „Newton Basin“ gives a feeling of landing and scoping out terrain, insistent and rhythmic but a bit noisy. „Chasma Boreale“ is free and spatial, a nebula based sound painting darting between stars, while „Back to Earth“ is a loose, somewhat bumpy re-entry, accented by that lofty feeling one gets what a slowing airplane approaches, and circles above before landing, arrives safely with a Jew‘s harp reception, then rests. This feeling of exploration, inquisitiveness, cartoonish chase, bold, playful prediction, fascinating discovery, and then party after touchdown is perfectly depicted. It‘s quite a trip, and an affordable ride Syntopia offers on what hopefully will be the first of many equatorial, terrestrial, and celestial excursions.

Bill Shoemaker, www.pointofdeparture.org, March 2006, USA

Chamber jazz is often a default term for what an ensemble without a drummer plays, even though the sub-genre is largely rooted in the classic Chico Hamilton quintets. The great thing about Hamilton’s work in his bands with winds, cello, guitar and bass is that he never shied away from being a jazz drummer. To a substantial degree, the same is true with Klaus Kugel, which is a big reason why Syntopia Quartet’s music on Mars is neither overly ethereal nor astringent. Granted, Kugel has a strong section mate in bassist Dieter Manderscheid, whose big sound and driving sense of line contributes to the music’s full-bodied presence. Still, Kugel’s feel for when to merely feather what the front line of violinist Albrecht Maurer and clarinetist/bass clarinetist Claudio Puntin play, and when to really lean into them, is one of the recurring pleasures of the set. Occasionally, Kugel holds off until the moment’s almost gone, as it the case on “Tempe Terra;” after a delicately honed, counterpoint-rich trio, Kugel slips in, prodding an otherwise unaccompanied Puntin with brushed toms and cymbals, to alter the overall shape of the piece. Elsewhere, Kugel seeps into the music from the margins, particularly when he assumes the role of orchestra percussionist instead of kit drummer, as on the otherworldly “Chasm Boreale.” On the bookend-like pieces “Goodbye Earth” and “Back To Earth,” Kugel’s drumming sustains a simmer; it’s that heat that crystallizes the difference between Syntopia Quartet’s music and that of many chamber jazz ensembles. It’s not that Maurer, Puntin and Manderscheid would just go floppy without Kugel. Maurer and Puntin spool out melody reflexively and, given the space, they’ll soar sooner rather than later. And, Manderscheid is quite capable of laying down a plump vamp or a harmonically anchoring line at any time. The four of them together, however, have the most intriguing and promising chemistry.