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Friday, May 9, 2008

Manuel Mengis Gruppe 6 - The Pond (Hathut, 2008) ****

Here is what Swiss trumpeter Manuel Mengis writes about his own music, and it's such a good descriptive that I copy it here in its entirety : "From the onset my aim was to find create a sound, which challenges each of us and which provides a balance between control and caprice, structure and instinct. Kitsch is a part of our music just as much as brutal force. The music is not reduced to one particular style, but depending on the venue and mood a variety of styles – combined or deconstructed – will be used in one composition. Motifs and themes will take the listener through a continuously changing soundscape; these will be highlighted and covered up, joined together and taken apart, they will disappear only to resurface in a later part. That way all pieces are connected. Musicians are not simply virtuoso soloists, who are occasionally unleashed to shine, but they have character, whose contributions have a clear connection to the emotional and formal aspects of the compositions. Although many parts follow the firm structure of the composition, every musician has the possibility to break out from his part, thus continuously challenging his fellow musicians to decide whether to go along, let go, or expand into new territory. That way the music verges on the unpredictable, but always follows the basic shape of the compositional structure, as if a new story was being retold again and again, but different." And he's right, this album - as did the previous one "Into The Barn" - brings a delightful balance between composition and freedom. The compositions are awkward, with lots of counter-rhythms and counter-themes, creating a whirling complexity of different layers of sound, which suddenly fall away for a more straight-forward rhythmic and thematic basis, over which the soloists can perform, or they could just as well move into full avant-garde explorations of sounds. Every track is a kind of suite, with evolving moods, themes and genres. The band consists of Manuel Mengis on trumpet, Achim Escher on alto sax, Roland von Flue on tenor sax and bass clarinet, Flo Stoffner on electric guitar, Marcel Stalder on electric bass and Lionel Friedli on drums. Indeed a perfect balance between masterful control and free form. Very creative. Very beautiful.

Listen to
Tomorrow Will Be Colder
Furry Buddy