Pachora: Astereotypical (2003)
Astereotypical is Pachora's fourth album in six years, but all four of these musicians have played together over the last decade in endless variations, most notably with Dave Douglas and Tim Bernebut also in their own exciting groups, as on Chris Speed's Yeah No and Jim Black's Alasnoaxis. Their work with Pachora generally showcases a tasteful, flowing jazz sound, with strong Balkan, Middle-Eastern, and even African inspirations, and they don't really break from that formula here. It's a warm record, an upbeat record that mostly showcases a group sound instead of solo prowess.
The majority of the tunes are on the short sidethe longest running under six minutes, which keeps everything very tight. What little solo space there is seems to be filled by Chris Speed's high, warm clarinet. Skuli Sverrison's bass work is also particularly resonant.
"Drifting" is a real highlight. The first minute features Brad Shepik's beautiful guitar and Sverrison's bass locked into a tight groove. At the one-minute mark, Black joins in with some nice hand drum work, and at two minutes Speed slides quietly into the mix, which builds exquisitely. The song is only three minutes and twelve seconds long, but that's three minutes and twelve seconds of pure heaven. I had to play it again as soon as it was over.
However, in general, too many of the songs seemed to concentrate excessively on beauty and not enough on adventure. I would have enjoyed hearing the band stretch out on a few more tracks, like they do on "Push," which has a much more experimental, electric rock-type feel and explores a heavier world than any of the other pieces here. In the end, though, it does sound a little silly to complain that the record is just a little too beautiful.
Track Listing: Romanics, Bushka Lounge, Klink, Snap, Push, Howl, Drifting, Little Theater, Nyla, Rider, Silencio, Mexahata
Personnel: Jim Black- percussion, drums, pianicca; Chris Speed- clarinet; Skuli Sverrisson- electric and acoustic bass; Brad Shepik- tamboura, guitar, electric saz