Ah, yes. A pretty good album that’s practically guaranteed to tick people off before they even hear the music. Kriegsmarine is a North Carolina fusion outfit comprised of four talented musicians, three brothers and a friend, who take part in World War II re-enactments on the side. They named their band after the Nazi German Navy and dedicated it to both Jesus Christ and a Nazi U-boat captain, but they insist they are not neo-Nazis. Certainly a different breed, these Schmidts. Ironically, Hitler would likely have disapproved of this very sort of “degenerate art”.
Now, let’s set the anti-Semitic knee-jerks aside and concentrate on the music, eh? That’s what the project is really all about, and this band delivers pretty well. Bassist Mark Schmidt is clearly in charge most of the time, with a massive tone and fleet technique that dominate the goings-on. The horns, on the other hand, are generally subsidiary to the low end. Electronic processing is a key element of the band’s sound: “Nebula” is a bass-drums duo that features some interesting effects towards the end, while on “Anxiety”, “Opus” and elsewhere the tenor sax is morphed to sound more like a bassoon. “Rudiger’s Tune” places heavy echo on both horns in turn while Mark makes like Les Claypool with the double-stops.
Not all the tracks are successful. “Morning and Evening”, for example, consists mostly of Mark’s little variations on a six-note motif over generic dance-rock drums. It’s a moment of “check-me-out” chops gratification that sounds out of place. “Opus” similarly relies on a repetitive bass figure but pulls it off better. Other tracks, like “Up From the Ashes”, have real potential and would benefit from some further development.
Kriegsmarine’s conception is about as original as anything since Morphine, and no doubt their ideas will be rounded out well as they gain more experience. One to watch.
Track Listing: Anxiety; Nebula; Rudiger’s Tune; Morning and Evening; Opus; Mark of Cain; U-100; Up From the Ashes; The Age of Rage; Prinz Eugen.
Personnel: Roger Schmidt, tenor sax; Paul Schmidt, trumpet; Mark Schmidt, six-string electric bass; Marshall Grant, drums.
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