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Saturday, March 4, 2017

Konstrukt — Molto Bene (Holidays Records, 2016) ****

By Martin Schray

2016 was a year in which I discovered some well-established bands and musicians, who somehow hadn‘t been on my radar: the British rhythm duo John Edwards and Mark Sanders (mentioned in an earlier review); Tim Berne’s New-York-based super group Snakeoil; and the Turkish improv dervishes, Konstrukt. The latter are mainly known for their frequent collaborations with the titans of the worldwide jazz scene – Marshall Allen, William Parker and Joe McPhee, to name a few. What they produce when they play “alone“ is a different experience, however. We hear more clearly their love for jazz, funk and rock traditions.

Konstrukt was founded in 2008, and their lineup has evolved around Umut Çağlar (guitar, e-piano, synth, reeds, flute, drum machine) and Korhan Futacı (saxophones, reeds, voice, loops). Here they’re fleshed out with Berke Can Özcan on drums and percussion and Barlas Tan Özemek, electric bass and synth.

Konstrukt “solo“ albums like Bulut (Sagittarius A-Star, 2013) display the band’s affinity to world music and Miles Davis’ fusion bands of the late Sixties and early Seventies. On Live at Tarcento Jazz (Holidays, 2015), they amalgamate traditional Arabic/Eastern melodies, strains of the blues and their particular blend of free jazz. Molto Bene (Really Good) is more psychedelic. Çağlar was involved in the electronic music scene before his love affair with free jazz started, explaining the use of moog synthesizers and “dated“ electronic devices. As a result the music on this album oscillates between space-age free jazz à la Sun Ra (“Mercan“) and reminiscences of John Zorn’s Naked City (mainly on “Alarm“ and “Anjio“).

The key track is the fourteen-minute “ToiToi“, which starts with an alienated, extremely deep Bootsy Collins P-Funk bass line in front of electronic noises and far-flung No-Wave guitar chords. A nervous saxophone stops by and the music sounds like an urban soundtrack from the Eighties. The atmosphere changes: a techno beat on bass drum, picked up by synth, keyboards hint early Pink Floyd, the bass refuses to deliver a steady beat and Futacı’s saxophone soars as the whole piece seems to move into deep space. Helicopter blades keep things chopping until the fragmented opening textures return.

Molto Bene is a significant advance by Turkey’s most exciting band. It’ll be interesting to see both who they choose for their next collaboration (maybe Keiji Haino) and where their next “unaccompanied“ excursion will lead them.

Molto Bene is available on vinyl and CD, limited to 250 and 300 copies respectively.You can buy it from the label’s website. Better be quick.

Listen to “Mercan“ here: