The third Spaltklang CD is here! The band is based around the unusual instrumentation of saxes, viola, bass & drums. There are some keyboards (played by drummer Remy Strauli) but they are used only as electronic spice.
The music centers on the fantastic rhythm section of Strauli (of Yolk fame) and bassist Stephan Brunner with the melodic interplay from Markus Stauss' saxes & Olivier Vogt's viola & violin. Though there is some improvisation here & there, this is highly structured music with counterpoint and variation and other 'classical' compositional devices. Compositionally it is similar to their last release in that it combines the intensity and imagination of the NY scene (Curlew, John Zorn, Naked City) with the elegance and Eurocentric chamber sounds of Univers Zero, Present, or some parts of earlier Art Zoyd! One cannot mistake Spaltklang as mere imitators because the music they create is all their own. I make the comparisons only as a point of reference though I think the astute listener will hear the parallels as well. The album is set up as 6 longer pieces (5-10 minutes in length) interspersed with 4 shorter pieces of right at 1 minute each. These short 'interludes' make up the 4 movements of "A Dinner in Honour of John Cage" and are considerably more abstract than the rest of the music. This is particularly apparent if you program your CD player to play only those 4 tracks! This is very appropriate as there are references to other 20th century maverick composers like Schoenberg, Webern and even Stravinsky or Charles Ives! This is all filtered through the experience of 'popular' musical forms such as 'rock'and 'jazz'. Even so-called 'world music' is used as source material. Nothing is off limits. There is even a nod to Gentle Giant in the final track "Another Dance Tune" which uses Giant's fondness for layering contrapuntal British folk melodies over a rhythm section that sounds as though it is playing in a different time signature! However you want to characterize/categorize Spaltklang's music, the result is surely 'progressive music' in its purest form, pushing the boundaries of popular music and classical music alike!
In short, THIS ROCKS!!! -but it makes you think! "Lontano" gets our highest recommendation!! Oh, I almost forgot, PLAY IT LOUD!!!