F.S. Blumm: Meets Luca Fadda

One of the key issues facing every musician is artistic growth, the need to ensure that his/her music avoids stasis and remains invigorated. Bernhard Fleischmann's a god example of someone who established a distinctive style early on but wisely opened it up by tackling ambitious pieces (pairing Welcome Tourist's song-based first album with a 45-minute epic on the second) and participating in group projects (The Year Of, Duo505). Similarly, FS Blumm (Frank Schültge) received deserved acclaim for albums filled with pretty electronic set-pieces ( Mondkuchen, Lichten, Zweite Meer) but, again, there's a downside to spinning too many variations on a single theme. All of which is a circuitous way of saying how refreshing it is to be presented with this startling departure for Schültge, a collaboration with NY trumpeter Luca Fadda.

The format alone signals change with the album dominated by two fifteen-minute settings augmented by four two-minute pieces. The first long piece, “Giorgi and Lucy,” is light-hearted in spirit, with a loping acoustic bass line pushing it along in a carefree jaunt, and is overlaid by Fadda's breezy horn lines and Blumm's smorgasbord of toy instruments and found objects. Accents of music box tinkles, bells, kalimba, and electric guitar add mutating colour, while Fadda keeps things interesting by playing in both a muted and wah-wah style (the latter similar to the electrified trumpet sound of Miles's On The Corner-Dark Magus period). The piece's relaxed meander remains appealing throughout, though it suffers slightly for ending rather listlessly. The other long piece, “Ricke and Dina,” (based on a 2005 performance done in front of an audience of children at a store in Berlin) isn't a radical deviation in sonic terms, but the mood shifts to a more ballad-like melancholy. The acoustic bass assumes a more central role too, with its woodsy pluck moving to the forefront. Despite their brevity, the shorter pieces establish themselves in different ways though, admittedly, they can't help but feel like afterthoughts when dwarfed by the larger settings. There's a pretty ballad vignette, “Achim and Giovi,” and Fadda even gets in some nice Lester Bowie-like runs during the seemingly improvised “Andi and Jason.” All told, the album offers multiple pleasures, a key one the warm, burnished jazz feel Fadda brings to all of the album's material, but it's perhaps more notable for documenting a promising advancement in Schültge's musical approach.

October 2007