4

Rusconi: Revolution

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
Rusconi: Revolution Revolution is in the air, and Rusconi knows it. The Swiss trio's fifth album sees it break with major record labels— following its memorable tribute to indie-rock band Sonic Youth on It's a Sonic Life (Sony, 2010)—and head out into the great unknown of self-promotion. It's a bold move, but one befitting of the sonic explorers its three members truly are. Following the likes of Radiohead and trumpeter Cuong Vu, the trio's music is available on a pay-what-you-feel-its-worth basis, and the aim is to build a fan base that recognizes the serious need to support independently-minded, creative spirits in order to be able to hear their music at all.

Revolution sounds refreshingly original and covers broad musical terrain that eases from jazz and art-pop/rock to experimental noise, and more besides. In essence, however, the music is groove-based and highly melodic—serious but fun. This border-less approach is well illustrated in "Templehof," a stadium anthem with a Bach-inspired soul; pianist Stefan Rusconi's highly infectious piano-and-whistling motif, supported by team-clapping, makes way for Fabian Gisler's bouncing bass solo, which swings like Ray Brown. Returning to the head, the song stops with all the suddenness of an encounter with a brick wall.

This mixture of pop sensibility-cum-rock energy, improvisational freedom and a heightened sense of drama is central to Rusconi's approach, and gets 50,000 South Koreans up and partying as easily as it does several hundred in a club venue. A faintly nostalgic, Duke Ellington piano turn bookends "Milk," a short piece where a tireless bass ostinato acts like a rudder. Sustained wordless vocals accompany Rusconi's gently meandering piano solo, which contains surprising power given his minimal flourishes. "Berlin Blues" shares similar characteristics, though it burns with greater intensity. The trio spins on a dime repeatedly, emerging in new sonic terrain, as Gisler's scratchy arco provides yet another surprising ending.

The most experimental track, the raw yet beautiful "Alice in The Sky," stems from a repeating, damped-string piano motif, and features the guitar wizardry of Fred Frith. Frith's crying lines grow in intensity, and distortion and loops are underpinned by a deep, quasi-devotional vocal drone and subtle Balinese temple bell effects. Drummer Claudio Strüby's presence increases gradually, with cymbals and pattering brush patterns raging quietly. It's an absorbing exercise in wedding sound textures, and typical of Rusconi's embrace of music's infinite possibilities, following collaborations with Swiss visual artist Pipilotti Rist, experimental Chinese jazz singer Coco Zhao, German arts/fashion photographer Diana Scheunemann , and video/film collective Zweihundfilm who conceived the wonderfully sympathetic video for Rusconi's composition from 2008, "One Up Down Left Right."

The pop-rock "Massage the History Again" shares the melodic strength and epic surge of Radiohead at its best, and is imbued with lyricism, notably in Gisler's unaccompanied bass solo. "Kaonashi" is a short, driving number, little more than a melody bolstered by rhythmic support and framed at either end by pools of quiet abstraction. "False Awakening" is an unusual vignette; percussion clatters like cutlery fighting, over a melancholic, film-score piano motif and amplified arco. A raucous live version of Sonic Youth's "Hits of Sunshine"—driven by a "Love Supreme"-type bass ostinato—demonstrates Rusconi's penchant for building from simple melodic and rhythmic foundations to heady, ecstatic heights; jazz, art-rock and psychedelia in a smoldering threesome. Powerful, adventurous and essential popular modern music.

Track Listing: Tempelhof; Milk; Alice in the Sky; Berlin Blues; Massage the History Again; Kaonashi; False Awakening; Hits of Sunshine (live in Bielefeld).

Personnel: Stefan Rusconi: piano, space echo, sound preparations, backing vocals; Fabian Gisler: bass, distortion & feedback, backing vocals; Claudio Strüby: drums, tapes, backing vocals.

Title: Revolution | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Qilin Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read BACHanalia CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Hallways CD/LP/Track Review Hallways
by Paul Rauch
Published: June 24, 2017
Read The Crave CD/LP/Track Review The Crave
by John Sharpe
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub) CD/LP/Track Review Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub)
by Joe Gatto
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Kickin' Child - The Lost Album 1965 CD/LP/Track Review Kickin' Child - The Lost Album 1965
by Doug Collette
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Towards Language CD/LP/Track Review Towards Language
by John Eyles
Published: June 23, 2017
Read "Imagination" CD/LP/Track Review Imagination
by Geannine Reid
Published: April 23, 2017
Read "A Multitude of Angels" CD/LP/Track Review A Multitude of Angels
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 30, 2016
Read "The Volume Surrounding the Task" CD/LP/Track Review The Volume Surrounding the Task
by John Eyles
Published: July 6, 2016
Read "The Imperfect Sea" CD/LP/Track Review The Imperfect Sea
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 4, 2017
Read "Real Feels - Live Vol. 1" CD/LP/Track Review Real Feels - Live Vol. 1
by Mark F. Turner
Published: December 13, 2016
Read "Two Hands, One Heart" CD/LP/Track Review Two Hands, One Heart
by Roger Farbey
Published: February 8, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.