Jakob Skøtt: Amor Fati
Amor Fati (‘love of fate') is not only an album title but also a term that will be instantly identified by students of philosophy as a favourite of Nietzsche's; however, no degree in philosophy is required for one to reap the benefits of the second full-length issued by Causa Sui drummer Jakob Skøtt under his own name (he also plays in the Sun River and Chicago Odense Ensemble outfits, and is one-half of the shoegaze duo Syntaks). His is the third strong album release to come from El Paraiso in recent months, with ones by Causa Sui and Papir leaving strong impressions prior to Skøtt's.
One of the album's distinguishing points is its strong live feel, something especially evident in the drumming, all of which was recorded in a single afternoon. Skøtt's playing by the Teo Macero rulebook in this case, with all of the elements recorded fast and then assembled and edited in Bitches Brew-styled manner. One might invoke Nietzsche a second time in that regard (specifically The Birth of Tragedy), given that Skøtt brings some degree of Apollonian order to the Dionysian chaos of the improvised sprawl.
Amor Fati opens in kosmische territory with “Mantis in Lace” introduced by a bass synth riff, but the material really grows in strength when Skøtt threads not one but two combustible drum tracks into the mix, a move that recalls Tortoise, itself a double-drummer outfit, at its wildest. Mix in some trippy synthesizer and organ flourishes and you've got a Milesian stew set to broil. If anything, the later “Araucaria Fire” and title track are even more ferocious.
The worry that accompanies a drummer's solo release is that it'll be too heavily skewed to drums and percussion and too lean in the melodic department. In this case, while there's no shortage of percussive activity on display, there's a strong melodic focus, too, and Skøtt shows himself to be fully up to the challenge of engaging the listener by featuring a generous supply of keyboard (organ, synthesizers, electric piano) and guitar melodies in the seven tracks. It's only natural that stylistically the forty-minute album would gravitate toward post-rock (think Tortoise, Trans Am, and, of course, Causa Sui), but Skøtt also keeps things fresh by taking the album into different directions, too. That's never more apparent than during “Eastman Oyster,” where the music plunges into a psychedelic krautrock orbit, and especially “Omega Oscillator” and “Earth of No Horizon,” pulsating, analog-styled riffs on ‘70s kosmische synthesizer music.