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Bojan Z Tetraband: Humus

Bruce Lindsay By

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Humus is the first album from the Bojan Z Tetraband and it's as intriguing as might be expected from such an original and inspired set of musicians. Led by keyboard player Bojan Zulfikarpasic—born in Belgrade in the former Yugoslavia and now resident in France—the band is tight, energetic and powerful despite the fact that the lineup only came together a few months before the April 2008 recording session. The album has been described by Z as "the most 'rock' album I could record" and by its accompanying press release as "a kind of punk jazz-funk," but neither description does justice to the album's range of styles, rhythms and tones.

At Tetraband's core is one of the most creative of rhythm sections—Seb Rochford on drums and Ruth Goller on bass. Out front, Z's keyboards interlink with the trombone of Josh Roseman: it's an unusual but stunningly effective quartet frontline. In many ways Roseman's trombone defines the album. Z's compositions give as much time to the horn as they do to the keyboards and Roseman's distinctive, rough-edged tone is crucial to Tetraband's sound.

Z is a stylish keyboard player, whether on the Fazioli piano, Fender Rhodes or Xenophone—an instrument of his own design, fashioned from parts of discarded electric pianos. On tracks such as "Greedy (in goods we trust)" he overdubs keyboard parts to create an at times overly-dense sound. The freshest and most effective tunes are those on which Z resists the temptation to add too many layers—"No 9," which features some fine interplay between Z and Roseman, and the slightly angular and gentle solo piece "Focus@" for example.

Rochford and Roseman gain one writing credit each. Rochford's contribution, "Empty Shell," sits comfortably with Z's own compositions—it's a fine group performance that moves from its funky drum and trombone intro to a more reflective and languid middle section before finishing in a flurry of drums and electronics over Goller's bass guitar pulse. Roseman's "Swamp Tune" is recognizably different from the rest of the album. Rochford and Goller keep up a solid, prowling, rhythm throughout while Z and Roseman layer keyboard and trombone sounds over the top, evoking the nocturnal activity of the city more than that of the swamp.

Humus closes with "Thirst Day," a tune that showcases the talents of all four players and sets Goller's bass playing at centre stage. It emphasizes just how individual and distinctive these musicians are—and how well they come together to create this fine band and this excellent debut album.

Track Listing: Natural Ground; Greedy (in goods we trust); No. 9; Empty Shell; Focus; Fuzzlija; August Song; Swamp Tune; Thirst Day.

Personnel: Bojan Zulfikarpasic: piano, Fender Rhodes, xenophone, Fazioli; Josh Roseman: trombone; Ruth Goller: bass guitar; Sebastian Rochford: drums.

Title: Humus | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Universal Music France


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