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Akku Quintet — Live
(7d Media 7D2201, 2022, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2022-03-16

Live Cover art

Akku Quintet is a group like no other. The quintet is based in Bern, Switzerland, where they have been active for around twelve years, releasing four studio albums during that time. Their stock in trade is a groove-based minimalist jazz of sorts, though one could call it ambient just as easily for the effect the music has on the listener — shifting, twisting and repeating while it bravely explores new views and interlocking motifs. At the core of the band is composer, conceptualist, and drummer Manuel Pasquinelli, who provides the movement and integration that carries each piece forward. Bassist Andi Schnellman compliments what Pasquinelli does, and together they provide the structure and mobility. Keyboardist Maja Nydegger can inhabit the melodic side or become part of the rhythm section, offering flexibility within their sound, while guitarist Markus Ischer and saxophonist Michael Gilsenan service the melodic side of their efforts. This is the first album by the ensemble in a live setting, but the performances of the five tracks were culled from four different live shows from April 2016 to February 2020, the final two tracks coming from the same set. This is music that requires a bit of patience from the listener, as ideas tend to develop slowly, exploring the images and moods of structure, textures, and colorations in the process, offering a powerful and immersive experience. The opener is “Waves,” a piece that clocked in at a mere twenty-one minutes on the Aeon album in 2017, here expanded to nearly thirty, coming to a head at the twenty minute mark when soloing sax and guitar guide the remainder of the epic. Epic indeed — every one of the five pieces exceeds the ten-minute mark. “Deep Sleep I” and “Deep Sleep II” were both on Akku’s debut album, Stages of Sleep, though here they are taken from two different performances nearly four years apart. With “Polar,” also taken from Aeon, it’s quite the opposite: all of the melodic activity of keys, sax, and guitar starts right at the beginning, with a respite in the middle of the piece, as opposed to the long slow build of “Waves.” With Live, Akku Quintet not only shows us what they are made of in a live setting, but also details their evolution over the last five years.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Akku Quintet

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