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Schnellertollermeier: 5

Named for the three band members - Andi Schnellman (bass), Manuel Troller (electric guitars) and David Meier (drums and percussion) - this Swiss instrumental trio play an experimental form of avant-garde music that takes influences from both rock and jazz, particularly the more minimalist, improvisational kind. This aptly-titled fifth album shows their great skill in building a piece of compelling music right from the get-go with opener “209 Apelion”. Starting off with a pulsing, repeated bass note bookended by sparse guitar, for the first four minutes it is Meier who takes the lead, primarily on brushes, in adding the colour you would normally get from a guitar or keyboards. Gradually the palette of the bass and guitar expands, carefully building tension until things explode around the half way point and the rhythm and pace goes up through the gears and the careful layering of instruments and changes in key. Troller’s guitar work here and elsewhere has a definite Frippian feel, redolent of the great man’s early eighties Crimson work. The last minute of the song is more calming and ambient.

This is probably the most accessible piece on the album; by contrast “Before And After” has a more avant-garde, experimental approach, with an emphasis on the busy percussion, and some abrasive sound collages. The listener has to work harder to find the melodies, although everything eventually coalesces around a busy groove and some shimmering guitar work which soften the edges a little.

Elsewhere,” A.o.E.i.n.E.i.A.” is a gentler, more ambient piece with a mellower feel, whilst “Velvet Sun” is one of the highlights, again very propulsive and jerky with simple, almost nursery rhyme-like melodies juxtaposed against jittery, clattering percussive rhythms.

Overall, there is much to enjoy on this album. It won’t be for everyone, and even as a fan of this style there are sections which I struggled to engage with, but the vast majority show a band in tune with one another and their material, and getting the right balance between experimentation and accessibility.

1.209 Apelion
2.Before And After
3.Tectonics/ A Sore Point
5.Velvet Sun
6.Animate Become
7.Made of Thin

Added: February 7th 2021
Reviewer: Tom De Val
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 463
Language: english

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