Elektro Guzzi: Live P.A.

Recorded live sans overdubs by Brendon Harding (engineer for Lee ‘Scratch' Perry) at Red Bull Studio, London and with producer Patrick Pulsinger (Hercules & Love Affair) at the helm, Elektro Guzzi—drummer Bernhard Breuer, guitarist Bernhard Hammer, and bassist Jakob Schneidewind—dishes out a second helping of material that makes good on its “no laptops, no loops, no programming” credo. The Wien, Austria-based trio obviously operates in accordance with certain self-imposed constraints but manages to rise above them through the sheer passion with which it tears into the ten tracks; it also helps that Hammer is such an immensely resourceful colourist, someone equally adept at voicing crisp lead lines and generating textural washes—a veritable mini-orchestra unto himself (check out, for example, the six-string blizzard roaring through “Bronze”).

A cosmic, guitar-only “Intro” gets things underway before the trio proper kicks into gear with “Vogelgrippe” adding Schneidewind's bass throb and Breuer's pounding plod to Hammer's arsenal of effects. The track builds nicely, becoming more charged and insistent as it races forward, and each of the musicians loosens up as he eases into the biting groove collectively created. Breuer embellishes his kit with shakers and percussive accents, Schneidewind fattens up the bass's sound, and Hammer strafes the whole with echoing power chords. A rather abrupt segue into “Rieu” brings out the funkier side of Elektro Guzzi's attack, jazz chordal voicings by Hammer and dub echo effects dominate “Boom Room,” and “Perturbed Dub” not surprisingly emphasizes the band's hypnotic groove leanings. And groove is the operative word here, as Schneidewind and Breuer move in motorik lockstep throughout (both thankfully eschewing the kind of interminable solo spots one might encounter elsewhere). Though the band is pitched not inaccurately as “techno live,” the label tells only half the story, as Elektro Guzzi regularly rips into dub and rock episodes too, and, furthermore, the trio's sound breathes in a way that has little in common with the inhuman precision associated with laptop-produced techno. Live P.A. captures the group in aggressive form, and anyone hungry for laid-back ballad moments should look elsewhere.

April 2011