Dec 16 2015
There’s some serious imagery conjured up by the Trabant Echo Orchestra on their 2015 recording, the four-part Winter Suite. Describing the music as cinematic really doesn’t do it justice, because their blend of jazz, chamber and pop is too finely textured, further complicated by the way it’s presented with a delivery that flirts with an expansive scope. A quintet of three strings (viola, cello and bass), piano and percussion, their interplay of tranquility and dissonance is a dance between sunlight and shadows.
Typically those two qualities work in tandem, shifting back and forth like the ebb and flow of the same ocean surface. “Part I” is a sprawling landscape of introspective vibraphone murmurs, the spry dance steps of piano, string sections that, sometimes, are a surging undercurrent of tension and sometimes they cut through that tension with concise, gorgeous harmonies. At times, “Part I” just drifts peaceably along until suddenly the quintet tightens its formation and charges ahead. The emotional tone of any one particular section is unlikely to be repeated at any other point in time on this recording, and nowhere does this observation hold true more than it does in part one of the four-part suite. In a nice turn of events, “Part II” counteracts the dramatic changes of the opening with a series of passages that layer softly atop one another. The interplay between tranquility and tension continues its dance in “Part II,” but expresses it with gentler tones.
Other times, though, one of the album’s primary two qualities will gain dominance. “Part III” is the peaceful whisper of comforting words, making everything okay. Strings swirl about, weaving harmonies in mid-air and vibes are a gentle patter of raindrops on a porch roof, and the occurrences of tiny disturbances do more to aid the atmosphere of serenity than they do to disrupt it. There are moments when it hints at something more volatile. Those hints become reality on “Part IV,” which crashes and fumes and loosens dark skies portending massive storms and flash floods. But true to form, the scene eventually shifts to one of focused melodicism and modulated intensity.
Just a beautiful album, possessing a sprawling vision that’s expressed with elegance and care.
Your album personnel: Simone Keller (piano, toy piano), Martin Lorenz (drums, vibraphone, percussion), David Schnee (viola), Nicola Romanò (cello) and Tobias von Glenck (bass).
Released on Qilin Records.
Listen to more of the album at the artist’s Bandcamp page.
Jazz from the Zurich, Switzerland scene.