Nov 30 2015
Easily the best part of Radio Liberty are how the bouts of melancholia inevitably lead to celebratory bursts of euphoria. Time and time again, the quartet DACH slip into reveries of the deepest contemplation, where melodic snowdrifts scatter across the surface of songs and rhythmic patter is the soft rustle of branches in the stiff breeze or the barely perceptible tapping of snowflakes on the window pane. And, time and time again, these gorgeous contemplative lulls bring about the conclusion that life is good and worth celebrating, and what better way than with some up-tempo dancing and lots and lots of warmth and sunlight.
Opening track “Henry III (The Mephistorian)” immediately sets the tone with some Nordic jazz tranquility… the ingredient most often used for these types of passage. This leads into title-track “Radio Liberty” and its joyful bounce and glide. And, as will happen with later tracks too, they enter into a contemplative passage. Pianist David Six is the driving force on this particular song’s quieter moments, but it’s drummer Mathias Ruppnig adding soft conversational chatter on “Cities Burning,” and it’s bassist Ilya Alabuzhev providing the soothing element on “Henry I,” and on “Someone Lost,” it’s the soprano sax of Andrej Prozorov ushering in a state of serenity.
But where they take turns drawing out their own view of tranquility on each track, it’s as a team that they go about transforming into something far more active and uplifting. The chipper piano phrasings melt right into the dancing saxophone lines on the “Black Seas.” And the up-tempo “High Heels” sees piano and drums rattling off competing lines of dialog that each demand attention and create a nifty seam of tension between the two. And on “Henry II,” which radiates no less warmth by way of being a softer expression is genial and upbeat as a result of the strong connection made between bass and glockenspiel. And then there’s “The Protest,” which hits the gas pedal from note one and doesn’t let up without a fight.
And while the album’s finale “10 Henry IV (For O. C.)” mirrors the opening’s tranquility, it takes on the album’s dual-personality by adding some volatility to the mix, and stays true to their approach of one leading to the other and then back again.
Your album personnel: Andrej Prozorov (soprano sax), David Six (piano, percussion), Ilya Alabuzhev (bass) and Mathias Ruppnig (drums, glockenspiel).
Released on Listen Closely.
Jazz from the Vienna, Austria scene.