Austrian guitarist/composer/producer Martin Koller combines techno/electronica and fusion with his band Martin Koller's Third Movement on their third release Right Now.
Unlike some electronic prog/fusion that hardly retains any semblance of jazz or fusion, Koller's work remains firmly rooted in a jazz/fusion feel below the noisy sonic surface. Right Now sounds like a cross between the hip-hop/ avant/ fusion of Vernon Reid's Mistaken Identity and the aggro-metal/ noise/ fusion of Meshuggah guitarist Frederik Thordendal's Special Defects. Some tracks recall the recent King Crimson Projekcts in the jazz/prog sound of live guitars and bass layered over electronic drums and sounds, yet with a stronger fusion influence in Third Movement's writing and playing.
Most of the songs contain melodic heads in the traditional jazz sense, yet the majority of the record is lead playing, either improvised or composed, over background figures. Koller plays with an aggressive interpretation of the Allan Holdsworth-type smooth feel and fat sound, combined with seamlessly injected modern electronic touches like the pitch shift effect of his Whammy pedal. This pedal allows him to electronically bend guitar notes above the physical range of the instrument. The effortless and tasteful integration of this electronic device in his lead playing epitomizes the integration of electronica into his fusion composing, and he succeeds at both.
Right Now features many different sonic timbres, including saxophone, an orchestral string section (presumably played on Koller's guitar synth), grainy low rhythm guitars, fretless and electronic bass, synth tones, and many different types of electronic drums and percussion. The layered sax and clarinet of Gerald Preinfalk add twinges of Masada-esque acoustic woodwind dissonance on the intro of "trippin'," a clever sonic contrast to the electronic dissonance.
Although the electronic drums lack the feel of an actual drummer, the wide range of sounds allows Koller to match drum sounds to specific songs in a manner that a regular drummer would not be able to achieve. However, the innate characteristics of the drum and bass electronic style of looped static beats preclude almost all rhythmic subtlety and expansion. Different textured sections provide contrast, but within each section or riff there is very little rhythmic development.
Right Now 's combination of fusion and electronica may not appeal to unadventurous listeners, but Koller's music effectively fuses these jazz and rock elements into a unique style. The intrinsic limits of his electronic palette preclude certain traditional drum touches, but Koller's exuberant originality compensates by taking his music in a new direction.
Artist Info: http://www.traumton.de/third_movement.html
Track Listing: 1.. right now 2.. hope 3.. what 4.. subharmonic dawn (liquid mix) 5.. trippin' 6.. # 13 haviland street 7.. right now (core remix)
Personnel: Martin Koller: electric and acoustic guitars, guitar synth, fretless bass, drum programming, electronix Gerald Preinfalk: alto-, soprano-, sopranino- & baritone sax, bass clarinet, Eb clarinet
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.