As a means to an endthe end being the creation of new sonorities and new approaches to composition and performanceelectronica is an interesting technological development. Wibutee's Playmachine and Polar Bear's Held On The Tips Of Fingers, to take two very different recent examples, are rich and convincing evidence of its relevance to contemporary jazz.
As an end in itselfthe look!-no-real-instruments!! syndromeits relevance is much diminished, and the response is: so what?
This second album from Danish electronicist Jens Berents Christiansen's (aka Rumpistol) Rump Recordings label falls pretty much in the latter bag. Which is disappointing and surprising, because Rumpistol's eponymous '03 debut album stood up. It wasn't jazz, but it was creative and witty music, applying electronica's spacious and hallucinatory soundscapes to traditional Brill Building songwriting structures, rather than kneejerk loops 'n' beats.
With Rump Comp Volume One we are pretty relentlessly back in loopsville. The most absorbing tracks are Kriipis Tulo's "Black Silk," the only one touched by any degree of jazz, with its trippy organ and vibraphone effects and toe-in-the-water, but still adventurous investigation of cross rhythm; and Theodor Zox's and Pellarin's dub-inspired "Boy In A Square Room" and "Dependency7." Both of these tracks forward new sounds and textures, but they are hardly revolutionary and don't do much that dub's Jamaican originators weren't able to accomplish back in the '70s with just a soldering iron, a DIY compressor, and a few pounds of sensi. For the rest, the album is a collection of unremarkable click-hop and ambient (as in aural diazepam) sounds.
There's no denying the fresh-faced enthusiasm and sincerity of the artists featured on this albumyou can read more about them on the label's admirable websitebut enthusiasm and sincerity alone are probably not enough for this community. Label credibility may be restored by Rumpistol's second own-name album, due later this summer. We'll see.
Personnel: Sofus Forsberg; Melk; Karsten Pflum; Zoffman; Kriipis Tulo; oRfeUs; Theodor Zox; Rumpistol; Pellarin; Skyphone; Manual & Syntaks; Prinz Ezo.