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This disc sees Finnish guitarist Klima Kalima alongside his German colleagues from Berlin, Oliver Steidle on drums and Oliver Potratz on bass. The line-up as well as the overall feel of this album is very close to that of the band's 2004 Helsinki on my Mind, although the intended audience is clearly more central European this timecosmopolitan, but with a taste for the extreme. Tracks vary between the hectic and the hallowed, reflected in Kalima's mixture of colours, from shocking fluorescent hues to gentle pastel shadings.
Kalima has worked in Berlin for the last decade, filling in his schedule with stints in the pit of the Deutsche Theatre as well as time on tour with nu-jazz pioneer Jimi Tenor. The compositions were honed during these days, and were recorded locally in 2006, and it was with the same line-up that he won the valuable Neuer Deutsche Jazzprize Mannheim in February 2008.
The opening tracks underline the rock inspiration with Kalima's near-acoustic lead supported by the lightness of accompaniment, rather reminiscent of Fred Frith's work with Henry Cow. "Uran Mining" begins as a jaunty, twangy, descending rock riff until the band pulls it inside out, beats it around and offers it back exhausted of its simple charm, ready for an almost identical twangy opening for the next track. Kalima's more Montgomerian style shines through on "FC Tango Wuppertal" with a traditional rhythm being treated to another jocular approach, Kalima's angular guitar being decorated by delicate bass tickles. The European allusions continue with "City of Spies" and "Balkanismus" with Kalima showing that he's also comfortable in the traditional role of jazz lead.
For a guitarist who has himself worked with the continent's most scabrous (France's Marc Ducret), as well as coming closely under the tutorial influence of the most raucous (surely Raoul Björkenheim), Kalima retains his commitment to simple envelope pushing. The sound is frequently sparse, letting the notes hang alone, or fade totally. This makes the only occasional use of distortion and hubris more dramatic, as well as engendering in the listener a compensatory silent response, which makes this music a truly challenging interactive experience.
Track Listing: Uran Mining; We Still Don't Understand; 99 Hookers; FC Tango Wuppertal; City of Spies; Chasing Yellow; Reason to be Happy #1; Reason to be Happy #2; Paracites; Inner Tattoos; Sick Puppy; Balkanismus; Party at Pharoah's.
Personnel: Kalle Kalima: guitar; Oliver Potratz: bass; Oliver Steidle: drums.