Exposé Online banner

Alain Markusfeld — Chaos or Not?
(Aloha Music no #, 2017, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2017-10-06

Chaos or Not? Cover art

There are changes in musical directions, then there are complete about-faces, and then there are shifts to entirely new musical universes. Markusfeld built a career in the 70s on mind-massaging psychedelic acoustic-electric instrumental guitar rock that was about as strange and unique as anything one might find coming out of France at the time, his four Egg label albums beginning with Le Desert Noir (1977) and Platock (1978) being prime examples of guitar craft. I mean, how many guitarists can retune their instrument right in the middle of a song while they keep on playing? Even in those days he always had a few great piano pieces on each album, a true master multi-instrumentalist. But who would have thought he would ditch the guitar completely for a keyboard-only (along with some brass, woodwind, and percussion) future in an almost alien sounding jazz world? The long silence from the early 80s until a few years ago (his 2012 comeback album Roll over the Eiger Trail) most definitely altered his musical outlook, and while what he is doing today on piano and synths is every bit as innovative as his 70s guitar works, it is as different as night and day. The 19 cuts on Chaos or Not? comprise something just shy of 40 minutes of strange jazz vignettes, most around one to three minutes in length, reminding a bit of some of the cool piano jazz of the late 50s, but without the string bass and drum kit, instead replaced by multiple layers of pianos and synthesizers, with other instruments joining in from time to time. Some of the pieces (mostly toward the last half) are more melodic workouts that tend to make a succinct melodic statement and terminate before they wear out their welcome. The first half of the disc is mostly occupied by the nine-part title suite which asks that very question numerous times in musical terms, many parts of which tend toward the chaotic with near impossible to comprehend rhythms, spider-like melodies played across instruments and abundant switchbacks and changes, all gliding along in a curious jazzy style. Markusfeld plays every instrument masterfully, and there are no other credits here. This is the world where we find Markusfeld, the composer, the arranger, the alchemist, at work in his laboratory today.


Filed under: New releases, 2017 releases

Related artist(s): Alain Markusfeld

Latest news

2020-03-24
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more

2020-03-17
Cruise to the Edge and Seaprog 2020 Festivals Postponed – The worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus has started to produce casualties in the music world, and festivals are not immune. We've had word that both the Cruise to the Edge (originally slated for March 27 - April 1) and Seaprog (originally June 5-7) have been postponed to later dates, with those dates to be announced. » Read more

2020-03-06
McCoy Typer RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz, McCoy Tyner. His tenure with John Coltrane in the early 60s includes some of the most treasured recordings of the era, including My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. After leaving Coltrane's group, he had a long and successful solo career. He was 81. » Read more

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Emily Bezar - Exchange – With Exchange, California singer/songwriter/keyboardist Emily Bezar has produced her definitive (so far) musical statement. The elements that have contributed to her past releases (progressive rock,...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues