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

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the ago of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more

2020-06-14
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more

2020-05-15
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Mestari - Mestari – Recorded in 1993, this four-piece jazz quartet featuring Yochk'o Seffer on various saxes was a logical precursor to the new Zao album, and while the latter more closely approaches progressive, Mestari...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues