If you're looking for adventure and originality in contemporary music, this is the one. Three-Layer Cakes functions with a combination of drums/organ/percussion, guitar/banjo and bass. If one wants to qualify the music, "punk jazz" will do, but that's only a hint. The three musicians don't think in terms of genres or styles, but make a natural cross-over of sounds, timbres and textures. Sometimes they sound like an updated version of the most adventurous version of Tony Williams Lifetime and then they wade in illuminating soundscapes. The use of banjo in some pieces is nothing less then phenomenal. I bet you've never heard a banjo doing what it does here. There's a lot of improvisation but there's never a sense of chaos or the absurd, it keeps on moving.The use of tuned percussion is reminiscent of some of Frank Zappa's work. The trio holds no veto's against any musical style, their tastes go from from Black Sabbath to John Coltrane. Listening to "Stove Top" is a musical journey with a wealth of sounds, rhythms and spheres: three versalite musicians who know what they are doing, without taking boundaries. (available as digital, cd or vinyl)
Brandon Seabrook (guitar, banjo, tapes)
Mike Pride (drums, glockenspiel, bells, organ)
Mike Watt (bass)
Magnet Animals is a foursome under the leadership of Mexican guitarist, vocalist and composer Todd Clouser. Clouser is a very versalite musician who doesn't want to be associated with any scene. His music incorporaties jazz, rock, funk, blues and improvisation. Doing that, he creates the ultimate crossover between genres without losing any authenticity. 'Fake Dudes' is his Covid-19 record and it's nothing less than brilliant. It consists of twelve 'songs' that go in all directions while keeping a phenomenal sense of consolidation and body. Every track is a musical adventure by itself. His music is complex and accessible at the same time, it makes even the body move. Most of all it surprises all the time. Throughout the whole album there's an immense intensity and creativity that takes one away every time. This is the perfect example of how genres can be woven into each other. I started loving music in an age were pop was considered as throwaway music, rock was dirty, dangerous and to avoid, jazz was alright if it had enough "decent" elements and a dash of "white" in it and classical was the only "real" and lasting music. Fifty years later there's an openminded generation that doesn't let itself limit by a genre. Magnet Animals is the perfect exemple of that, while making the most powerfull crossover I've ever heard. Yes, brilliant! Available as digital, cd and vinyl.
Todd Clouser (guitar, voice)
Eyal Maoz (guitar)
Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz (bass)
Jorge Servin (drums)
Covid-19 may be a disaster for musicians, but it also triggers ideas or accelerates the start of projects. Drummer Florian Arbenz starts a cycle of twelve conversations with other musicians. #1's an instant hit. The combination of the inventive, driven, imaginative and energetic drum parts with the equally surprising trumpet by Hermon Mehari and the warm but pointed guitar of Nelson Veras culminates in ten engaging conversations, of which eight own compositions and two by Ornette Coleman and Eddie Harris respectively.
Arbenz has played with these musicians before, so empathy does its job. The starting point is always a noted composition, but the free interpretation of the trio gives each piece a spontaneous flexibility that we rarely hear. Arbenz sets a high standard for the follow-up cd's. This applies to both the music and the impressive recording quality. We are already curious about the sequel.
Florian Arbenz (drums), Hermon Mehari (trumpet), Nelson Veras (guitar)