Matalex, a German quartet that has opened for Billy Cobham in Europe, describes themselves as "Germany's only Jazz-Grunge act." Culled from the tour for their second studio record Jazz Grunge
(1995), the first half of Live 96
was recorded by chance in Rome. The second half of Live 96
comes from an earlier show on the tour, in Dusseldorf, and features guest Randy Brecker on trumpet.
Matalex's almost purely instrumental music blends funk stylings with more extended rock jams, but none of it approaches the raw furor of grunge. The crisp hi-hat work and the slap and pop bass build a light funk feel, but the guitars and keyboards sound more like the smooth fusion of groups such as Tribal Tech. The guitar uses swirling clean sounds and a rock crunch, while the keyboards use ethereal synth patches, round lead tones, and clean piano to add multiple sonic textures.
The driving rhythm section never falters. Songs like "Apples Blues" feature sections of contrasting dynamic levels that highlight the versatility of the band, moving from snappy jazz-funk to a mournful, muted trumpet break by guest musician Brecker. Several of the keyboard and especially guitar solos drone excessively long over rather static vamps, but these extended sections may work better in a live setting than they sound on the live record. The two tracks with Brecker also happen to show the band in their most engaging form.
Matalex list their mixing engineer in the band credits with the musicians, and he writes a paragraph in the liner notes about the technical details of the live recording in Rome, in addition to the paragraph by the band leaders about the music. The superb sound of Live 96, particularly the crisp isolation between all instruments, including the different guitar and keyboard sounds, justifies listing the engineer in this unconventional way. Indeed, the sound feels almost too good for a live record, with the gratuitous panning of the rhythm guitar back and forth across the stereo field in "X-perience," and fading the entire band to black on the breaks in "Matalex." Musicians and amateur engineers will however find the technical details of the live recording interesting.
Matalex's two live sets on Live 96, while overly extended in places, show fine jazz rock chops with funk rhythm influences.
More Info: http://www.netcologne.de/~nc-krauszma/matalex.htm