All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

7

Alex Machacek: FAT

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Around for more than a decade, Alex Machacek's first record as a leader (renamed, with characteristically bone-dry wit, as Mc Hacek) was Featuring Ourselves (Next Generation, 1999), but it was when the Austrian-born/California-resident guitarist moved to Abstract Logix that more significant attention came, first with his stunning, year-besting [sic] (2006). Three more records followed, culminating in another year-topper, 24 Tales (2010), an equally staggering set where the guitarist repeated [sic]'s concept of "recomposing"-writing music around, in the case of [sic], a Terry Bozzio drum solo-but this time, scoring Marco Minnemann's expansive-and massively impressive-52-minute drum solo. FAT is already destined for the same "best of" list action for 2012, but with a considerably different focus.

In between [sic], Machacek's Improvision (2007) and The Official Triangle Sessions (2008) weighed a little more heavily on performance and interplay, first with drummer Jeff Sipe and bassist Matthew Garrison, and then with Sipe and bassist Neal Fountain. FAT sits somewhere in-between, with no shortage of compositional focus and some recomposing, including the middle section of "Why Not," a quirky, hilarious opener that-not unlike Norway's Farmers Market and its recent Slav to the Rhythm (Division, 2012)-packs more into five minutes than most mere mortals do on an entire record. Machacek and his trio travel from strange circus-like evocations to high velocity polkas-even, as Machacek calls it, in a recent All About Jazz interview, some "disco-polka." But the tune also incorporates long, knotty melodies that, despite occasionally traveling at near-light speed, are somehow immediately memorable, as well as brief improvisational episodes that, whether warm and clean-toned or overdriven and sustained-resembling guitarist Allan Holdsworth's sound but with a little extra bite-demonstrate Machacek's ability to think on the fly.

Machacek's music is undeniably cerebral; even darker, laidback writing like "What a Time to Be Me" remains sophisticated, its changes and harmonic vernacular reflecting an evolving language that has become instantly recognizable despite its unrelenting unpredictability.

No reflection on the still rake-thin Machacek, FAT stands for Fabulous Austrian Trio, bringing back [sic]'s Austrian contingent: bassist Raphael Preuschl and drummer Herbert Pirker. This time, Preusschi's spends his time on electric bass, with his harmonics-driven solo feature, "Ton Port," a direct and lovely homage to Jaco Pastorius and the late bassist's "Portrait of Tracey."

As cerebral as FAT is, there are plenty of visceral moments, including the overtly fusion-esque "Safe Word," with its mid-song Machacek/Pirker duet one of the album's hottest moments. But there's also respite from the complex writing and powerhouse playing. FAT ends (excluding the humorous and informative 11-second "FYI") with "Let's Not Argue," a tranquil piece that may be a ballad by Machacek's standards, but that just means it's a ballad unlike any that are likely to be found anywhere else.

In-demand with artists like keyboardist/violinist Eddie Jobson and Planet X drummer Virgil Donati, Machacek may be capable of fitting into any situation, but it's in the context of his own challenging, unorthodox and always surprising music that he shines the most. FAT is just one more excellent reason why.

Track Listing: Why Not? (aka Disco Polka); What a Time to be Me; Safe Word; Comprising Evidence; Ton Portrait; D-Lite; The Life of Herbert P; Studio Swing; Let’s Not Argue; FYI.

Personnel: Alex Machacek: guitars; Herbert Pirker: drums; Raphael Preuschi: bass.

Title: FAT | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Abstract Logix

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Why Not

Why Not

Alex Machacek
FAT

Extended Analysis
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
  • FAT by John Kelman
  • FAT by Ian Patterson
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
FAT: (Living the Dream)

FAT: (Living the...

Abstract Logix
2016

buy
Gary Husband & Alex Machacek - NOW

Gary Husband & Alex...

Abstract Logix
2013

buy
FAT

FAT

Abstract Logix
2012

buy
24 Tales

24 Tales

Abstract Logix
2010

buy
Improvision

Improvision

Abstract Logix
2007

buy
[Sic]

[Sic]

Abstract Logix
2006

buy

Related Articles

Read Suite 150 / A Big Band Portrait CD/LP/Track Review
Suite 150 / A Big Band Portrait
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 16, 2018
Read Lost Days CD/LP/Track Review
Lost Days
by Don Phipps
Published: August 16, 2018
Read Cabin In The Sky CD/LP/Track Review
Cabin In The Sky
by Chris Mosey
Published: August 16, 2018
Read Higher CD/LP/Track Review
Higher
by Jim Trageser
Published: August 16, 2018
Read Faroe CD/LP/Track Review
Faroe
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 15, 2018
Read The Darkness Of A Fairy Tale CD/LP/Track Review
The Darkness Of A Fairy Tale
by Gareth Thompson
Published: August 15, 2018
Read "City Of Light" CD/LP/Track Review City Of Light
by John Sharpe
Published: December 22, 2017
Read "Prisma" CD/LP/Track Review Prisma
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 19, 2018
Read "Peace and Love" CD/LP/Track Review Peace and Love
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: October 31, 2017
Read "Forest Grove" CD/LP/Track Review Forest Grove
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 6, 2017
Read "II" CD/LP/Track Review II
by Kevin Press
Published: November 7, 2017
Read "Gleb Kolyadin" CD/LP/Track Review Gleb Kolyadin
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 22, 2018