Elektro Guzzi: Parade

Parade is Elektro Guzzi's first release on the German label Denovali after an impressive string of EPs and albums on Macro. It's not the only thing different about the new release: the guitar-bass-and-drums lineup for which the trio has become known here assumes a slightly different form with the trombones of Martin Ptak, Hilary Jeffrey, and Daniel Riegler added to the mix. Long-time fans shouldn't worry, however: featuring four tracks originating out of commissioned work for the Artacts Festival for Jazz and Improvised Music, Parade sees the group expanding on its signature sound without losing sight of it in the process. Kinetic, propulsive grooves remain in plentiful supply, and the music's as dynamic and visceral as ever.

Further to that, guitarist Bernhard Hammer, bassist Jakob Schneidewind, and drummer Bernhard Breuer twist their sound into new, unexpected shapes on the EP, which at thirty-two minutes is arguably more mini-album than EP. Dub conspicuously surfaces on one track, and in other places associations with the music of New Orleans brass bands and the experimental punk-funk outfit Material emerge. The man-machine aesthetic the Vienna-based trio's cultivated to date immediately asserts itself during the opening seconds of “Element (Bone Version),” even if the distant throb of the trombones signifies something new is in the offing. A subtle dub dimension also emerges, specifically in the guitar-generated ripples, without nudging the group too far afield of its familiar, four-to-the-floor attack. As the track advances, the horns gradually swell, blowing in like a growing storm to lend Elektro Guzzi's sound added weight and density.

That aforesaid Material connection arises during “Speck” and “Parade” when the growl of the bass calls to mind Bill Laswell's playing on Memory Serves, while the bluster of the trombone does much the same in recalling the contributions George Lewis made to that 1981 release. Perhaps the biggest surprise arrives when the closing track, “Schmone,” opens with dub-inflected atmospherics characteristic of a Basic Channel, Maurizio, or Chain Reaction release. The trio's identity is so strong, however, that it doesn't take long before the music settles into a prototypical Elektro Guzzi pulse, even if trombones and echo effects are present to push its sound into promising new directions.

December 2016