Pablo Gīw

trumpet player – NICA artist since 2019
© Nathan Ishar / Pramudiya

Improvised or conceptual, free noise collages, globaltronics, intoxication & melody: Pablo Giw’s music is not only difficult to classify into categories and genres, it doesn’t matter anymore. The Cologne trumpeter (*1988) has created his own canon since 2010 with his bands (including DUS-TI, Stellar Banger, Turnbull/Giw), projects (theatre music, performances with the dancer Kelvin Kilonzo) and above all his concerts and releases as a soloist (CD »Never is Always«): Complexity and minimalism, chopped up, sharp-edged sound fragments and lyrical excursions, precise rhythm and free interactions combine to create a unique expression.

One cannot approach the music of Pablo Giw - one must jump into it. It seeks direct confrontation, so we accept it. November 16, 2019, in a former garage somewhere deep in the West of Cologne: Stellar Banger playing, Giw is, of course, to be heard on the trumpet (and expanding electronics). His music is: Nervousness, exchange, speed, euphoria, a crash, many suggestions to continue. You are right in the middle of it, the musicians are immediately at the attack, on an insanely high level of intensity, every action, every reaction is lined up in a chain of sound and rhythmic events, all of which are of equal value. Of course, this doesn’t always work out well, the musicians also miss each other, retreat to rehearsed patterns, but he goes on again. And further and higher and deeper.

Stellar Banger is »only« a quartet, besides Giw we hear Joss Turnbull and Ali Hout on percussion and Abed Kobeissy on Buzuk, an arabic lute. A Cologne-Beirut friendship that will celebrate its German premiere on November 16, 2019. »Complex Collaborations« is the motto of the festival where they perform here, it couldn’t have been chosen better for this band. On the surface it is about throwing Arabic folk into the mix with Western disco and global improvisation music, one of those popular clashes, one might think, but after the first few notes it is already clear that this music aims at penetration, fusion, transgression. Is Stellar Banger not only the synthesis of four radically individual sound ideas, but also the synthesis of Pablo Giw’s previous work? Obvious, but also too simple.

At the end of 2019 Giw looks back on ten years of activism in the improvisation, electronic and noise scene. Since 2010 he has been working together with Turnbull, both of them soon expand their radius into the Levantine/Persian region, get to know other musicians in Beirut and Damascus - that was before the civil war - and make contact and rhythms. Also in 2010 Giw founded DUS-TI with drummer Mirek Pyschny: free improvisations under the conditions of rock; and rock free from all rhythmic and harmonic restrictions. Giw, at the time 22 years old when, student of Markus Stockhausen, already five years on the road with the Cologne Metizio-Pop-Band La Papa Verde through the whole of Europe, set the accents right at the beginning of his artistic career which have lasted until today. It’s like with Stellar Banger: the Giw sound is there immediately, there is no warm-up or warm-up phase, no searching & finding. Although DUS-TI play with a minimalist setting - drums, trumpet, a bit of electronics, nothing more - their music is of tremendous presence, it fills the room, and just because it is so reduced at its core, it doesn’t crush you, leaves us with the air to breathe after the first moments of being overwhelmed, of being clenched from behind. Although DUS-TI played under completely different conditions (and will hopefully play again soon) - Pyschny and Giw had their rehearsal room in the Stollwerck community centre in Cologne, nobody had to set up an airlift to Beirut - the way to Stellar Banger is short. Same here: no start-up phase, no waste of time, no clichés, all energy flows directly into the musical exchange (certain rock poses are allowed though…). And of course: DUS-TI have released their music themselves from 2012, consequent autonomy - no producers, no management, no foreign production and distribution structures.

Giw’s sound has also remained surprisingly constant, or better: consistent, over the years. Provocatively speaking, it doesn’t develop any further, and certainly not linearly, but instead it goes deeper and deeper, it also becomes more subversive - in the literal sense of the word: undermines expectations. His solo debut, »Never Is Always« (2017), put together, produced, mixed, released, distributed, is a spoken word album, a drone and techno LP, an improvisation music for trumpet that does not (always) sound like one. How should one classify this? You don’t have to, because the sound impression, the power of this music, the arrangement of the pieces with their strong colours between pastoral idyll and hopeless gloom - all this plays with certain patterns, but only to leave them behind, to dig deeper into a world of mud and snow and mud.

One year earlier - in 2016 - another duo adventure has begun, Giw’s collaboration with the dancer Kevin Kilonzo: the visual expansion does the music good, Kilonzo finds rhythmically a-rhythmic body images to sounds and texts by Giw, who in turn engages with the erratic, unpredictable dynamics of Kilonzo. The successful improvisation is the one that makes us forget the questions of the relationship between arrangement and spontaneity, because the result leads to a music - and with Kilonzo: to a performance - that is so rich and multi-layered (despite the simplest sound prerequisites) that we want to move in it ourselves.
Giw has made his sound art available to numerous contexts: He has written theater music, performed it himself, worked on a play with prisoners of the Cologne Prison and the director Elisabeth Pless, he has played ad-hoc concerts with the protagonists of the Cologne improvisation scene, he has ideas for an encounter with early music. Stellar Banger is a place of longing in 2019, 2020 - a utopia, because the band hasn’t had many opportunities to celebrate their coming together until now - to which much of what Giw has played in recent years amounts. Or not, because the DNA of this music is improvisation, unpredictability. One story tells of a man who wants to run to where heaven and earth meet, to the horizon. It can be told as a story of futility and stubbornness. However, the man meets many strange people on his way, he slides into the most craziest situations. We experience what becomes more and more important in the course of the story and makes the fixed idea fade away. This is also the story of Improvised Music, the dream of an endless journey. Who would know this better than Pablo Giw?

Felix Klopotek

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