Nov 21 2015
Ten Songs About Real Utopia is the third album from the quartet of saxophonist Daniel Erdmann, drummer Samuel Rohrer, guitarist Frank Möbus and cellist Vincent Courtois, and each successive recording shows the quartet achieving a more profound unison of sound even as they develop their own individual voices within the united front. The quality most impressive about their recordings is the way they are able to instill a thick, heavy serenity over the entire proceedings even as they infuse the music with heavy doses of dissonance and volatility. The reason for their success in this regard is the way they are able to exploit the inherent differences in patient, lyrical melodies and the percussive structures they inhabit. This results in a cocoon-like environment where the melodies radiate a profound beauty from within even as, sometimes, chaos forms all about them. It’s the kind of thing that keeps the ear riveted in place.
“Song Against Patriotism” is probably Exhibit A of this approach, as the gentle melodic sighs eventually grow into a conflagration of growls, shouts and explosions. It’s the most extreme example of the push-pull tension of serenity and dissonance on this recording, but that the model holds even under these challenging circumstances nicely puts a bow on it.
More often than not, it’s a pulsing tempo that greets melodic expressions, and there’s always an appealing uncertainty over which of those two elements is the waves and which is the shore. “No Number Two,” “There Will Be Blood” and “Song for Christoph F.” fall neatly into this category, and where one may remain calm as the others hit the gas pedal, the effect is the still the same. And when the quartet does take their foot off the gas pedal for a time, like on “Both Sides,” “Porteur de Vie,” “Trouble Interieur” and “Zone of Lost Children”, a thick, cloudy tranquility hangs over the song, even when they flex some muscle.
Just an absolutely gorgeous album, one matched by a sharp intelligence and wit.
Your album personnel: Daniel Erdmann (tenor sax), Samuel Rohrer (drums), Frank Möbus (guitar) and Vincent Courtois (cello).
Released on Arjuna Music.
Listen to more of the album on the label’s Bandcamp page.