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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Die Glorreichen Sieben: Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World (Boomslang Records, 2013) ****

By Martin Schray

I have always wondered if it was possible to combine Neil Young and free jazz, two of the musical loves of my life – but somehow I couldn’t imagine how you could do this. Kalle Kalima (g), Flo Götte (b), Christian Lillinger (dr, perc) and Alfred Vogel (dr, perc) have tried it and the result works in a really surprising way. The trick is to use two drummers instead of two guitars. While Neil Young knows how to use Crazy Horse, maybe the best-oiled machine in rock, as a backing band to display his orgiastically meandering solos, Die Glorreichen Sieben (The Magnificent Seven) are a unit of equal soloists who put the emphasis on the rhythm section, deconstructing and re-constructing some of Young’s greatest hits like “Zimtmädchen” (Cinnamon Girl), “Welt – Rocken” (Rockin’ in the Free World), “Heart of Gold”, After the Goldrush” or “Like a Hurricane”.

Helsinki-born Kalle Kalima uses Neil Young’s typical elements, the open chords and his typical guitar sound, he also lets the solos breathe, never denying the folk element in Mr Young’s music. The most beautiful example for this approach is “After the Goldrush”, which sounds as if Bill Frisell had adopted it.

Essential to Young’s music is the feeling of vastness and freedom and Alfred Vogel said that Die Glorreichen Sieben also wanted to create this by putting Christian Lillinger’s drums on the right channel and his own on the left. He said that they wanted to create a deep and wide carpet of sound, an enormous texture. In between there is Flo Götte’s bass, which is a mixture of Billy Talbot’s stoical Crazy Horse bass figures and Frank Sampedro’s rhythm guitar.

Sometimes it seems as if the band had to dig deep to find the melodies and riffs which are covered by a thick layer of dust (it takes three minutes in “Zimtmädchen” and “Rockin’ in the Free World” is hardly recognizable) but as soon as they have found them they crumble to dust again (for example in “Like a Hurricane”), which doesn’t matter because the band uses the originals only as an impulse to ride into different directions in order to discover what kind of country you can find beyond the fence.

A very interesting album for fans of Bill Frisell’s Americana albums (e.g. “Good Dog Happy Man”), Marc Ribot or Aram Bajakian’s “there were also flowers in hell”. And of course for Paul.

Watch “Heart of Gold” here:

The album is available on CD and as a download via the website: