Friday, 5 January 2018

Eberhard Weber - Fluid Rustle (1979)

Haven't posted an Eberhard Weber solo album yet, so it's long overdue to rectify.  This is my absolute favourite, in which the instantly recognisable upright-electric bassist pared back his unique music to just bass, vibes/marimba (Gary Burton), guitar/balalaika (Bill Frisell), and two vocalists (Norma Winstone and Bonnie Herman) adding wordless magic.

Making his ECM debut after being discovered by Weber on tour, Frisell is tentative and understated here - to a fault, in his own retrospective analysis, but his minimalist volume swells and gentle arpeggios are perfectly placed on this winter's morning walk of an album.  The side-long Quiet Departures starts off with Frisell in this zone, accompanied by Burton, before the bass and voices enter.  By the halfway mark, this pre-dawn chill has started to see some sunlight, as Frisell strums an open chord on the balalaika (with a more energetic lead guitar overdubbed), and the voices set off on a gorgeous melodic progression.

The sunlight continues to burst through on the title track, with Winstone and Herman in full voice as Burton and Weber sparkle all around them, before another subtle, fluid solo from Frisell.  The rest of the album turns colder and more desolate, with a plaintive Burton solo providing the centrepiece of A Pale Smile, and the closing Visible Thoughts ending the day back in the wintry dark as the voices turn into eerie whispers.  A highly, highly recommended standout album in Weber's peerless catalogue.

mega / zippy


  1. Many thanks
    Good album and superb blog

  2. I really can't thank you enough for all your wonderful insights and inspirations on this amazing blog. Fluid Rustle is a rare distillation of beauty and singular expression and one of my favorite go-to LPs -- and one of the best on ECM. Thank you!

  3. Caught this one on OP HUM awhile back--it's a game-changer. Music that I somehow always knew I wanted to hear, but didn't know existed. Don't you love when that happens? Like these people you'll never know or really share anything particular with somehow put something into the world that feels distinctly YOURS. I'm not explaining this well, sorry, but I'm guessing you know what I mean. Hopefully an even wider audience will find this wonder thanks to this post.

    1. No probs Bill, I'd say you're spot on with that: the 'where has this music been all my life!' kind of feeling (although your take on it has an extra dimension that I like), I definitely got that with Fluid Rustle, it was as natural a fit for me as an old pair of shoes.

  4. I first came across ECM one Sunday night in the early 80's. It was past my bedtime but I regularly listened it on my stacking hi-fi, with headphones on. BBC Radio 2's Jazz Hour, or whatever it was called, was presented (probably) by Humphrey Lyttleton, a distinguished Brit with a distinctive Old Etonian voice and a jazz background as a trumpeter. Most tracks played were introduced, or commented on after, but that night I was transfixed by an ethereal choral sound, yet it wasn't. It was almost singalong, yet it wasn't. And Humph played the entire side of the album without speaking and each track lasted around ten minutes, long enough to be totally sucked in, to become absorbed.

    It was 'Fluid Rustle' by Eberhard Weber, who had been an inspiration for (even) Jaco Pastorius. Gary Burton, who I'd seen back in the sixties when he had long hair, on the vibraphone and marimba, Bill Frisell on guitar and balaika, with Bonnie Herman and Norma Winstone, a revered British jazz vocalist,on wordless vocals.

    I knew this was one album I had to have, no matter what. And it lead me onto a musical path I have rarely strayed from. European Jazz had been a turn off for me in the sixties and early seventies, all that free-form squiddley-squaddly was not in tune with my biorhythms or something of that time.

    But this spacey stuff, giving room for thoughts that strayed beyond what was being played, mood music but definitely not muzak, seemed to be what I had looked for. I explored the catalogue, especially Eberhard Weber. And through Eberhard I discovered Jan Garbarek, the Norwegian saxophonist who can conjure up the emptiness of fjords,

    It was the start of a still continuing journey.