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Akku Quintet — Kinema
(Bandcamp no#, 2023, CD / LP / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-11-01

Kinema Cover art

The room is completely dark, there’s a whirring sound emanating from one corner. Later joined by one crystal clear note from a piano, then another, and another again, slowly defining a rudimentary melody that continues to evolve; a gentle and subdued note from a saxophone makes an appearance, and the piano melody continues. Behind it all, a rhythm begins to develop quietly between drums and guitar, then the bass enters and with the drums begins to form some complex rhythm patterns, and before you know it that dark room is full of beautiful colors, odd patterns and shapes, and it’s still evolving. Such are the first few minutes of the fourteen minute opener “Zephyr,” a piece that continues onward in a constant state of mathematical evolution. Returning to the quieter opening phrases, the sax takes a beautiful solo before the piano inserts itself and all of the rhythmic complexity fires up again and carries it through to the end. One can choose to call it jazz, even though it really isn’t, or minimalist, another term that applies at times — the grooves certainly are there in full force, and the five players take turns joining together in various combinations to present some of the tightest visions of musical complexity while remaining subtle and mysterious. Akku Quintet is led by drummer and composer Manuel Pasquinelli, who is also a member of Sonar, joined by bassist Andi Schnellmann (also of Schnellertollermeier), guitarist Markus Ischer, saxophonist Michael Gilsenan and pianist / keyboardist Maja Nydegger, the same lineup that has served continuously since the group’s second album Molecules in 2015. One thing you’re not likely to hear on an Akku album is an outward showy display of virtuosity; sure, there will be a solo for sax or keys or guitar here and there, but the compositions and arrangements are intended to be presented as a group effort that every player can exist within. The title track features some snarly distorted guitars over a pianoscape with the everpresent complex rhythms, presented in both a full length eight-minute version as well as a single version that disappears after four. The three-part “Ink” gets a beautiful solo sax introduction before a repetitive keyboard figure ushers in the rhythm section and guitar complexities, while “Morph” presents some strangely wicked rhythms: bet you can’t tap your feet to this! All taken together, Kinema is a subtle and engaging tour-de-force.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Akku Quintet

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