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Koplant No: Elker

Glenn Astarita By

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This midwestern band cross-pollinates jazz with elements of German krautrock, pulsating funk and streaming ambient synth effects. Hence, the musicians bill themselves as a cinematic electro-jazz entity. The quartet's third album features synth strings, cyclical beats, and the creative fusion of saxophonist Joel Vanderheyden and trumpeter Brian Lewis Smith's spry horns charts and gritty soloing spots. Otherwise, the group injects numerous treatments and simple melodies amid dynamics and variances in pitch, evidenced on the title track "Elker," for example.

Cheery vibes and soaring crescendos are bridged with layered soundscapes via weaving horns, garnished with modern jazz stylizations and interesting developments. In addition, they diversify on a per-track basis. While there are not many memorable or hummable pieces, the production often intimates a resume of what their capabilities are within the 39-minute sequence of events.

"Cherry Pie" is one of the finer works, constructed with Smith's soft Fender Rhodes clusters, Rob Baner's up-tempo electronic drums riffs and squishy and squeaky overlays atop the artists' oscillating mode of operations and dark e-piano grooves. But Venderheyden generates a slight detour and broadens the musical canvas with his harmonically appealing lines. Here, the ensemble dishes out a comprehensive polytonal soundscape that also offers a bit of brain candy for the listener. It's a solid effort from a band that may not have hit its stride, yet is patiently cultivating its scope of attack into an all-embracing musical force to be reckoned with.

Track Listing: Before We Go; Elegy for Truth; Elker; Knock Knock Ghost; Humpty Trumpty; Airways; Cherry Pie; The Divided.

Personnel: Joel Vanderheyden: saxophone, beats, vocals; Brian Lewis Smith: trumpet, laptop, keys; Drew Morton: basses, synth; Rob Baner: drums, samples, vibes.

Title: Elker | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Self Produced


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