Alain Markusfeld — Chaos or Not?
(Aloha Music no #, 2017, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2017-10-06
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.
Related artist(s): Alain Markusfeld
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more