EP Review: “Climax” (INK)
From time to time I “explore” the latest releases on bandcamp.com … and that is where I came across this EP. I directly liked what I heard!
This French formation is led by drummer Victor Gachet. Often with drummer-led formations you hear a strong groove and rhythmic foundation in their music and this release is no less so. Victor Gachet lays down some tight jazzy, Drum ‘n Bass and “Trippy” grooves. His drum setup has a Jazzy sound, making the normally electronic produced beats in Drum ‘n Bass and Trip Hop sound very “organic” even “soulful”.
Who also “stands out” is saxophonist Leonard Kretz. As (former) saxophonist I always pay special attention whenever I hear another sax player do his/her “thing”. Many saxophone players have the tendency to “utter” a never ending “waterfall” of tones (perhaps inspired by masters like John Coltrane or Michael Brecker – some of my personal all time heros). Unlike those masters not everyone “spilling” their musical “guts” has actually that much to share of real relevance (unlike Coltrane and Brecker). I was thus very pleased to hear what Leonard Kretz does on this EP. Even though I am sure he could “blast” the listener away too with uptempo licks, he chooses to stick with the fundamentals, the “core” in his playing, almost “minimalistic”. Less really is more! He has a nice warm, somewhat melancholic sound, that at moments reminded me a little of Jan Garbarek.
Last, but not least bassist Lionel Ehrhart and the man behind the keys, Sebastien Valle … Ehrhart lays down a solid foundation on bass with a warm jazzy sound, aligning just as easily with the drum patterns of Gachet as to laying down a dubby pedal / drone bass. While sound-wise Ehrhart is the “core”, Valle creates the “space” and “scenery” in which Kretz can take flight … The choice of the synths by Valle is excellent and really “lifts” the music.
The EP is very well played, recorded, mixed and mastered. For anyone into semi-electronic groove-based Jazz this EP is for sure one to check out. Now a short impressions (review) of the tracks:
“Antimatière” (feat. Ena Eno)
This track starts of with keys and saxophone … slowly building up … till Gatchet comes in with an “old-school” Drum ‘n Bass groove. Kretz keeps playing mostly long tones (very Jan Garbarek like) and the track slowly continues developing till the first break where Valle plays his Fender Rhodes, it’s bell-like sound creating an atmosphere of mystery and anticipation. Kretz joins in, adding to the tension build-up, they suddenly taking it down again, “looping” back to the “build-up” as in the beginning of the track. After the next break the piece enter’s it’s “climax stage” ending all together playing the same motif.
What exact role the featuring Ena Eno played on this track I am not sure of, but he is a French composer, musician, sound designer, visual artist and – if his Soundcloud profile is correct – also a “space invader”.
Side note: Back in the 90s I played myself with a Drum ‘n Bass formation (GNA – Genius Needs Attention) from Amsterdam and spend a lot of time in Jungle and Drum ‘n Bass clubs. In 2017 I also released a Broken Beat / Drum ‘n Bass inspired Nu-Jazz track called “Pod Race” with JazzProfilactika. INK’s track “Antimatière” is thus “right up my alley” so to say.
This track with an “irregular feel” is my favorite of this EP. I like the build-up, taking you into different musical “spheres”, from parts with rock-like power (with distortion infused Fender Rhodes) to on other moments a “Waltzy”, “Latin-like” or jazzy D’nB feel. I like the “simplicty” of the theme, mostly long tones (something I also love about Giant Steps by John Coltrane). If I am not mistaken Kretz uses a Wah-like effect on his saxophone during his solo, a nice touch. Some of the key hits by Valle feel a bit “dubby” as does the bass by Ehrhart. This track is like a “short movie” soundtrack … it takes you to various scenes within the story.
“Angel” (Massive Attack Cover)
This cover version of “Angel” (from Britisch Trip-Hop formation “Massive Attack“) is very well done, in fact, so well done that I like it even better then the original. This INK version sounds more jazzy and more dynamic due to Gatchet’s drums and the melody by Kretz on saxophone – even though mellow of tone – has a more “haunting quality” to it then vocal melody of the original.
I really enjoyed listening to this EP, I hope you did too. Below some links to INK’s site and online profiles.