DDD 64:16

MARS  Syntopia Quartet

Albrecht Maurer  |  Claudio Puntin

Dieter Manderscheid  |  Klaus Kugel

CATALOG    nemu  002

Albrecht Maurer- violin, gothic fiddle

Claudio Puntin - clarinet, bassclarinet

Dieter Manderscheid - double bass

Klaus Kugel - drums, perc., sound objects

contact / booking:


Recorded & mixed by Albrecht Maurer, August 2003. Mastered by Rainhard Kobialka, Topas Studio. Graphic Design & Photos by Christiane Resch. Produced by Albrecht Maurer & Klaus Kugel

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



steve dalachinsky nyc 4/05

Pick of the Week .... 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.   Justin Glick - WNUR 89.3 FM / March 2006, Chicago http://jazz.wnur.org

The first release for this German improvising label is an excellent one, merging the concepts of contemporary classical with improvisation and minimal music. The results are a diverse and lively discussion between the players, all of whom contribute to the compositions. The music brings the violin and reeds up front and backs them with an understated but rock solid rhythm section .... Watch out for this label, their upcoming releases present an excellent set of modern players.   Squidco / New York, 05 www.squidco.com

'Mars' was actually inspired by the red planet itself and has pictures on the cover, as well as song titles about Mars. Each member of the quartet is involved with the composing. The quartet has a unique sound with violin and clarinet up front, giving it a more brittle sound, somewhere between modern classical and avant-jazz .... There is some fabulous interplay between the violin and clarinets that is featured on many of these pieces, as well as between the bass and drums. The composing on a number of these pieces is enchanting with some swell harmonies and subtle yet intricate twists for the violin and clarinet(s), as well as the rhythm team. This is a fascinating blend of charted and free playing, that is well balanced between those two approaches. "Valles Marineris" has Claudio playing his bass clarinet as if it were a didjeridoo and the violin playing matching those of his string with his voice, well done. Nice to hear some of European brethren playing such adventurous music with such restraint.   Bruce Gallanter - Downtown Music Gallery / 05, New York www.downtownmusicgallery.com

WE have landed in a musical world as diverse as the red planet itself. A syn/thesis of musical ideas & ideals presented in an almost U-topia-n way filtered thru strings & reeds, all the while being quietly supported by a backbone of stalwart percussion. Quiet fire. Harmonious disorder. (Tempe Terra/Elysium ala plush basins of gravity's demise).

Adopting the urgent & genteel patterns of "modern/classical" composition.

All the players involved in this ensemble, Maurer, Puntin, Manderscheid & Kugel share an empathic understanding of the material presented on this cd. A music of main motion post/poning suspending time indefinitely, amending the primary purpose of source by extending the limits of order while recreating vocabularies. Debating with the un-debatable while dealing with the highest frequencies jumpy jittery moros micro-spaciality thought provoking yet witty... ah when i was a child those old crazy cardboard Flash Gordon shows really got me: MING the MERCILESS on the planet MONGOL. the MOLE MEN. i knew that everything that flew was suspended by wire. i laughed at the over-kill but always believed that Flash would get out of the jam & save Dale and Happy. & i always believed his innocent love for Dale & her's for him was the only real thing in the script... excuse me i diverted course /// this music made me yearn for my childhood. Made me nostalgic for the b&w 17 inch t.v. & that's a good thing right now in the world of the future. Dale Arden a pretty thing she were.

Now back to the program in progress. The rich chasm that is Borialis >

? almost mesmerizing this 2nd piece (Chryse Planitia) a bit scary like i am myself walking on air on the surface of Mars with my oxygen making me giddy & Newton's apple floating somewhere above my hungry mouth just out of reach. This third dance (Tempe Terra) causes me to smile as i write. The low tones the ancient fiddle contains. Warm transmissions. Bodies falling & floating in space. Here where we are suspended on this globe colliding arrested here in place yet quietly rol-(e)ling along with a recognized purpose. We must save the QUEEN of GRAsses as she is whisked away and rushed thru the newly blown leaves> this 4th piece (Elysium Planitia) begins like the beloved cello suites of Johann B. We must try in small ways to save this planet we are married to. Green planet making us jumpy like the music as it yearns for the alps on a cold spring night where the gold's a triumphant liberator & the sky's a grey storm. (Valles Marineris). There is no vacancy. No delay. No decline. No absence. No simple equation. Just an innocent stab at beauty & a chance to serenade the flock. Only a willingness to perform the act of MUSIC / no subsidiary speeches extracted from the long sojourns / no unneeded competitions / no tawdry debates > this is a well tempered ensemble concerned only with give & take & equal sharing of voices always aware of each other /always willing to generously yield when necessary ? ah such a pleasant trip to space i've had without ever leaving this room without ever fearing what monsters i might find waiting for me on the red planet's surface in its craters and seas… This 6th track (Olympus Mons) calls me with its bell tells me it is time to sleep the lush quiet engulfs me with its portending drone/ then i am jarred awake and reminded once again that even when we sleep we must stay alert. That even as we dream morning is turning itself over again.

Track 7 (Newton Basin) starts me on my wanderings again. Crooked funny trails to nowhere/land where everything is coming up carpets & fish & ecstasy & grapes & oranges & hellos & yawns & quieting hypnotic sensibilities leading us under the belly-fast nibbled surface of a vast body of clarity & confusion (track 8 - Chasma Boreale) where we see that infinite is not about #s but is about how many circles the breath can

make while warbling like a bird on a cat/gut fence. As we realize once again that this is about US this Syntopia. These final solitary strains of melody & night bringing us Back to Earth.

Yet suddenly the desperate cries of a soul in pain remind me again that, tho tired, i am still & always AWAKE.

Goodbye Earth - by Steve Dalachinsky nyc 4/05

Pick of the month on the front page ... The excellent album that appeared on the new label Nemu Records is a very ambitious work. It has a light poetic emotion with a soaring universal feeling.   Hiromasa Horiuchi - JazzTokio / April 2006, Tokio www.jazztokyo.com

This quasi Third Stream/free jazz/chamber jazz offering is the inaugural release from Germany’s Nemu Records. With superior sound engineering enhancing 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 .... 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.    Glenn Astarita - All about Jazz / Feb.06, USA www.allaboutjazz.com

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 .... 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.  Bill Shoemaker - Point Of Departure / March 06, USA www.pointofdeparture.org

Nemu Records:

Albrecht Maurer

Siebengebirgsallee 12

50939 Köln


Tel: + 49 221 424 83 53

Klaus Kugel

Dorfstrasse 19

D-19395 Wangelin


Tel: +49 173 25 450 25


LC  14164