Plasmic – Live At Porgy & Bess


1. Airing On Walk (13:57)
2. Chowing Mopper (7:54)
3. Hays Of Rope (16:09)
4. Bashing Fulb (13:55)
5. Ships And Wicks (6:52)
6. Tailcode (7:40)


· Agnes Heginger: voice
· Elisabeth Harnik: piano
· Uli Winter: cello
· Fredi Pröll: drums


All music by Agnes Heginger, Elisabeth Harnik, Uli Winter & Fredi Pröll (AKM)
Recorded live in concert by Norbert Benesch at Porgy & Bess in Vienna, Austria on 9/5/2021
Mixed and mastered by Josef Novotny (
Sleeve notes Veryan Weston
Cover artwork by Maria Frodl (
Photo by Georg Cizek-Graf
Graphic design by László Szakács
Produced by László Juhász
Thanks to Christoph Huber, Georg Cizek-Graf, Maria Frodl, Josef Novotny, and special thanks to Veryan Weston
All rights reserved, copyright held by composers


To all intents and purposes this line-up resembles a jazz piano trio accompanying a lead vocalist but this project has helped to turn our world upside down. These musicians are all equally interactive with each other. As a collective, they work extremely well together, listening, searching and reflecting each other’s ideas to make their music. I was drawn into this ensemble’s sound which has both an orchestral and a chamber fabric and the superb high quality of the recording helps as well. Enjoy!

Veryan Weston
December 2021



Released: October 2022 / first edition of 300 cds
Direct purchase: Bandcamp / Discogs





“Slovenia’s Inexhaustible Editions was first mentioned here with the triple album Superimpose With (pace tangential remarks in the past couple of entries…), and continues to be a label to watch, i.e. releases a relatively wide variety of music in this general space (across multiple venues etc.). In particular, a couple of albums appeared online this month dated to October of last year (to go along with already-appearing October releases there…), and while I’m not sure why (the backdating), I do want to note Live At Porgy & Bess by Austrian quartet Plasmic: Recorded in Vienna in May 2021, Live At Porgy & Bess is actually the third album from Plasmic, but somehow I didn’t notice the earlier two. Indeed their second album Live At Chilli Jazz Festival 2013 was released on Leo Records in 2014, and seems like the sort of album I’ve wanted to audition at the time, but doesn’t seem familiar to me now at all… (I’m not sure why I never saw it – perhaps it didn’t make it to the US.) Anyway, that album does seem more preliminary than their latest, i.e. more pointillist, more whispery… Live At Porgy & Bess comes off as much more taut and compelling, as the quartet now maintains elements of tension across longer lines and passages, i.e. forges a more coherent style, but without sacrificing textural creativity. And their collective idiom does seem to be hard won over the years, beginning in 2003 (per the Leo notes) with a piano trio consisting of Elisabeth Harnik (piano), Uli Winter (cello) & Fredi Pröll (drums). I haven’t actually featured any of these musicians yet, although I’ve mentioned Harnik (with Dave Rempis, in May 2016) – and I’ve actually heard a dozen or more recent releases (including e.g. her duo with Joëlle Léandre)… her pianism striking a balance between traditional articulation and extended work inside the machine. (Harnik has been one of the more prolific pianists in this space of late, in fact, appearing on a variety of labels…) And then I’ve only ever encountered Winter alongside Pröll, but the latter does have another recent vocal album, Primus 17 on Creative Sources (released in 2021, under half an hour in duration…), a duo with Mara Kolibri (another Austrian, perhaps his wife…). That recording features more presence, perhaps more intimacy than Live At Porgy & Bess, but also moves into textual material (rather than vocalizing only…), the French and English lyrics on later tracks only seeming to rein in the wilder musical expression… And Plasmic does add vocalist Agnes Heginger to its ‘piano trio’ since 2004 (their first album, Dr. Au, recorded in 2008, still presented as ‘featuring’ Heginger…), and in this case, Heginger doesn’t involve textual content per se, rather a variety of vocalizations… (These can be ‘traditionally musical’, i.e. voice as a sort of horn, but also involve e.g. panting and some other mouth/throat effects. In this sense, of course the voice is the ultimate ‘flexible pitch instrument’ – and moreover always projects a sense of individuality, even virtuosity, regardless of how it’s approached. And I’d been totally unfamiliar with Heginger previously, somehow.) So although various passages can build to greater intensity, there’s an overall continuity maintained, and as noted, a kind of long-form modulation of tension, producing a generally mellow album, i.e. projecting an overall similar vibe despite track differences. The ensemble also ends up being rather canonical, i.e. vocalist plus piano trio (pace cello variant), and evokes various traditional (free) jazz figurations. There’s a sophisticated collective atmosphere, a generally unified tapestry, a feeling of ‘locale’ in the Braxton (pace Morris) vein… (There’re also some more soloistic passages, pace the free jazz idiom.) The quartet’s world-making is still more or less tethered to traditional tonal figuration, though. (That’s different from e.g. another very recent vocal album of note in this space, And John from a duo of Maggie Nicols and Mark Wastell, seeming to invoke a sort of intentional weirdness, an apparent 1960s era spirituality around quietude and gonging…) And although Live At Porgy & Bess can seem relatively mellow, after more than an hour, it does also leave a strong (affective) wake when it concludes. There’s thus a relatively traditional (chamber) feel to the music of Plasmic, with a great deal of ensemble sophistication as well (honed over almost two decades of performing together..), yielding almost a canonical ‘free jazz quartet featuring bent tones and extended vocalizing’. The result can be dreamy and even hypnotic.” / Todd McComb, Jazz Thoughts, 13 January 2023


“An outstanding example of Austrian avantgarde, recorded at the legendary Porgy & Bess jazz club in Vienna. Plasmic is back, after nearly 10 years. Elisabeth Harnik leads here again her quartet with absolutely phenomenal vocalist Agnes Heginger, Uli Winter on cello and Fredi Pröll on drums. They play six medium length tracks, starting with my favorite, 14-minute long Airing On Walk, with wonderful vocal passages of Agnes, and chamber music mood created by the dialogues of the piano and the cello, and amazingly delicate support from Pröll. Of course, people who know the scene will have immediate associations with RGG and their collaborations with Anna Gadt. Chowing Mopper lasts 8 minutes and is more abstract, with plenty of (for my ears) inside piano. Another highlight for me is the 16-minute long Hays Of Rope, perhaps the most ‘traditional’ track with a ‘melody’, sung majestically by Agnes. The drumming here is particularly impressive, and so are the piano lines. The next is the 12-minute long Bashing Fulb, another excursion to the contemporary chamber music land, with wonderfully peaceful vocal, cello and piano lines. Ships And Wicks last 7 minutes and is another vehicle for the full of expressions and feelings vocal of Agnes. The end with a nearly 8-minute long Tailcode, probably played as an encore (?), with another set of amazing piano lines, and ‘deormed’ voice of Agnes. Sleeve notes of Veryan Weston say: ‘To all intents and purposes this line-up resembles a jazz piano trio accompanying a lead vocalist but this project has helped to turn our world upside down. These musicians are all equally interactive with each other. As a collective, they work extremely well together, listening, searching and reecting each other’s ideas to make their music. I was drawn into this ensemble’s sound which has both an orchestral and a chamber fabric and the superb high quality of the recording helps as well. Enjoy!’ Indeed, extremely highly recommended!” / Maciej Lewenstein, Facebook, 22 January 2023


“Plasmic is the Austrian free improvising quartet featuring Viennese vocal artist Agnes Heginger, Graz-based pianist Elisabeth Harnik, known for her collaborations with Chicagoan sax heroes Ken Vandermark and Dave Rempis and drummer Michael Zerang, and Ulrichsberg-based cellist Uli Winter and drummer Fredi Pröll. Live at Porgy & Bess is the third album of Plasmic and like the previous albums of the quartet documents a live performance of the quartet, this time at the Viennese jazz club in May 2021.

British pianist Veryan Weston, who has worked in a similar ensemble with vocal artist Phil Minton, praises Plasmic in his short liner notes for helping «to turn our world upside down». Weston enjoys the complete democratic and highly inventive dynamics of this quartet, which can shapeshift in an instant from the classical chamber to the orchestral, as well as the four musicians’ ability to listen deeply to each other, search and reflect each other’s ideas and make music.

And Weston is right. Heginger is possessed by her hyperactive, wordless stream of thoughts, chanting mysterious spells and occasionally adopting playful jazz vocalizations; Harnik is all over the piano and often employs the piano as a string and percussive instrument; Winter acts as a bass player who keeps a loose pulse and Pröll colors the restless commotion with imaginative percussive touches, and all work perfectly together. The totally intuitive music of Plassmic flows in its own strange and often dadaist way, and tells beautiful, dramatic and ecstatic stories in unpredictable and captivating voices and sounds.” / Eyal Hareuveni, Salt Peanuts*, 23 March 2023


“Quartet voix piano violoncelle et percussion chambriste et exquis à souhait. On ne présente plus la pianiste Elisabeth Harnik, la beauté de son toucher et le raffinement harmonique contemporain de son jeu. Belle surprise, la chanteuse Agnes Heginger dont la voix égrène subtilement vocalises enjouées et phonèmes en sursaut constant avec une grâce rythmique surprenante. En guise de « section rythmique » les efforts conjoints du violoncelliste Uli Winter et du batteur Fredi Proll, entendus il y a quelques années au sein du Trio Now! avec la saxophoniste Tanja Feichtmair. Pour eux, la musique de Plasmic, est une toute autre orientation, à la fois poétique, imbriquée à l’envi, sonique avec une belle part de risque dans le renouvellement des formes et des émotions. Avec ces six improvisations de longueur moyenne oscillant entre sept minutes et le quart d’heure, les quatres musiciennnes – ciens développent un sens de l’écoute, de la recherche en mettant en évidence le collectif et chaque individualité dans ce qu’elle a de plus intime. Du label slovène Inexhaustible Editions, nous viennent de belles surprises et s’ils affichent une démarche résolument radicale « sans concession » (Inexhaustible évoque le titre d’un album phare d’AMM), il proposent aussi des musiques libres moins austères dérivées du jazz contemporain, option pour laquelle ils ont un goût judicieux. Ce magnifique Plasmic dévide sa petite musique en joignant au sérieux contemporain, la qualité des échanges, un savant dosage de l’invention et de l’ubiquité ludique à un superbe raffinement qui cadre admirablement avec la finesse musicale et la vocalité elfique d’Agnes Heginger. Au fur et à mesure que défilent les plages, Agnès se libère et effeuille les nombreuses facettes de son talent entraînant ses trois collègues dans des séquences cascadantes, des dialogues impromptus, des interactions diffuses et éclatements subits de formes volatiles… Uli Winter tiraille et pressure son archet sur les cordes crissantes ou chuintantes, des effets miroitants de harpe folle surgissent de l’âme du piano d’Élisabeth Harnik fertilisant les murmures ombrageux de la vocaliste. Dans une telle compagnie, Fredi Proll, un batteur prolixe quand il le faut, s’est mué avec en bruiteur discret et ponctuel avec beaucoup d’à-propos (ah!, il y a une batterie?) et de respect de la liberté collective et individuelle. Un magnifique album.” / Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg, Orynx-improv’andsounds, 20 May 2023