Elektro Guzzi: Parquet

Parquet finds Elektro Guzzi's motorik thrust growing ever more refined on its second studio album (a live set, Live P.A., appeared earlier this year). As before, the live techno trio—Austrian artists guitarist Bernhard Hammer, bassist Jakob Schneidewind, and drummer Bernhard Breuer—lays down its locked grooves in real time, with all nine cuts recorded straight to analog tape sans edits and overdubs and the hour-long result co-produced by Elektro Guzzi and Patrick Pulsinger.

Initially earmarked by a sweet little hiccup in meter, “Affumicato” grows in intensity in carefully calibrated, step-by-step fashion, the musicians symbiotically united. In contrast to the traditional lead role adopted by guitarists, Hammer, here and throughout the set, eschews soloing for colouristic texture in conjoining his playing to that of his band-mates. While his colleagues are crafting a deep funk pulse in “Vertical Axis,” for example, Hammer's painting the scenery with atmospheric washes that suggest as much the shimmer of organ chords as they do guitar. The band achieves aerodynamic lift-off in jacking cuts such as “Pentagonia” and “Redford” and stokes taut and at times manic grooves of driving propulsion elsewhere. Certainly two of the album's go-to tracks are the wiry “Moskito,” which gallops with a particularly furious intensity for nine minutes, and “Slide Dandy,” which takes the album out on a ferociously pounding and throbbing note.

Setting aside individual ego-based inclinations, the musicians lock tightly together in their shared commitment to a singular sound, and the listener can't help but get swept up in the panther-like stealth of their pursuit. Calling the band's sound techno isn't entirely inaccurate, but it is inadequate and maybe a little misleading. Yes, there is an obsessive focus on groove, but the introduction of subtle shadings and dynamic contrasts distances the trio's approach from the robotic repetitiveness of techno in its purest form, and each of the musicians contributes inflections to the group's oft-syncopated thump, whether it be in the form of subtle shifts in percussive patterns or bubbly bass lines.

December 2011