Saturday, March 22, 2014

Week 10

Revolution by Rusconi

So here's something a little different...

Rusconi is an avant garde, electronica, groove, contemporary jazz outfit from Switzerland. It's taken me a few listens, probably because I don't listen to music of this genre much, but I've slowly come around.

Before I go any further, you should know that two of the groups full-length releases can be downloaded for free from their page... just sayin'.

Stefan Rusconi, for whom the group is named is responsible for writing most of the songs, and let me tell you this is some trippy stuff. Granted I don't know a lot about avant garde styles of jazz, there is still something about the ideas and energy this group generates that makes this album pretty awesome.

The opening track, "Tempelhof" is certainly exemplary. Out of tune piano with 808 style backbeats and then triumphant piano chords that sound more like they belong on a mixtape than anything else come together in a pretty groove-tacular way. A little upright bass soloing reminds you that you're still hearing a jazz group, but otherwise you might think that this is an instrumental track for a '90s underground hip hop group!

The following tune, "Milk" is a little more out of left field. Sparse stumbling piano harmonies with a hiss-filled background lead to some eerily engaging vocal harmonies. Not sure how I feel about this one. Maybe that's the point...

Next up is "Alice in the Sky." This is one of my favorites on this disc. Very atmospheric. Ethereal percussion and upright sounds eventually give way to some distorted guitar and then piano. The first five minutes of this one would be right at home during the opening or ending credits for an indie film festival winner. Haunting but not depressing. Think Fracture (a la Ryan Reynolds) meets Butterfly Effect.

Following "Alice" is a very trippy joint called "Berlin Blues." The weird harmonies first heard in "Milk" are back, along with some unpredictable feel and time changes/stops. Good luck trying to bob your head to this!

The free rock side of Rusconi is very evident in the next tune, "Massage the History Again." If you've ever enjoyed the stylings of Porcupine Tree, I can't imagine you wouldn't find something to like in this one. 

Just like "Alice in the Sky," the next track, "Kaonashi" would be right at home in an indie film credit roll. I won't say that this tune doesn't go anywhere per se, but it is very simple. But also very complex. But at the same time, really simple. The droning vocals and piano progression yield a little more every time you hear it. Some analytical listening may be required.

"False Awakening" is next to last. Trickling keyboard arpeggios play host to what I'm pretty sure is a kindergarten class playing with kitchen utensils on other found kitchen items. If not, it sounds like it! Eventually some distortion interrupts the kindergarteners and gives way to the last track, "Hits of Sunshine."

This one is a tune that's just, well, weird. Weird harmonies. Weird string sounds. Weird ethnic percussion and strings. Until the groove settles. Eventually a very MMW thing settles in, giving the listener a little more of a melody to latch onto, plus plenty of 2's and 4's. There's a little Michael Jackson-inspired tag that you'll have to check out yourself! Weird track. Cool Ending.

Overall, Rusconi's first independent release is a solid example of what some contemporary jazz musicians are doing these days. There are elements of Coleman, MMW, Porcupine Tree, and Avishai Cohen to be found throughout, so if you've ever gotten down on any of those groups, I definitely recommend Revolution by Rusconi.

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