The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble: Mutations EP
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The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble turns up the emotional heat on its second outing, Mutations, a thirty-nine-minute “EP” conceived as a companion to the group's full-length debut (the self-titled release appeared on Planet Mu in 2006) and an appetizer to an upcoming second album. The material (which includes new pieces and re-works of earlier ones) is often dream-like—especially during those moments when Charlotte Cegarra's celestial vocalizing appears—and elegant, with the septet deftly straddling dark acoustic jazz and atmospheric electronic styles in a manner that often echoes the music Angelo Badalamenti created in collaboration with David Lynch and Julee Cruise (something most clearly heard during “Serpent” when a trace of Cruise's “In Heaven Everything is Fine” refrain from Eraserhead rises from the depths). Throughout the disc, Jason Kohnen's woodsy acoustic bass and Gideon Kiers' drums anchor the material while haunting streams of trombone, violin, and cello deepen the brooding ambiance.

“Caos Calmo” unfolds like a haunting lullaby, with horns and strings intertwining sinuously while electronic shadings and angelic vocals heighten the dream-like atmosphere, as does “Avian Lung” with its moody lounge jazz swing. As ethereal as its title indicates, “Shadows” unfurls like a languorous trip through the unconscious with the thrum of Nina Hitz's cello melding with Hilary Jeffrey's jazz-tinged horn playing. There are serenading moments but nightmarish ones too: “München” weds torrential squalls and trombone bluster in an epic manner that's a bit reminiscent of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and “Twisted Horizons” receives a significant charge from Eelco Bosman's power riffing. The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble's music is so visually suggestive, it hardly surprises that the group (established in 2000) started out as an audio-visual project with Köhnen and Kiers creating soundtracks for silent films like Murnau's Nosferatu and Lang's Metropolis.

March 2009