German electronica jazz outfit blur the distinctions between jazz, ambient electronics...
Peter Marsh 2003
This lot have been one of Germany's most interesting musical exports of the last few years. Like a lot of bands from Norway to Chicago to Manchester, they've been exploring the murky hinterlands of electronics and real-time playing that draws from jazz and free improvisation, but the results are very much their own.
Previous Kollektief efforts have hinged around the shimmering, humid soundscapes generated by Thomas Weber's guitar, piano, harmonium and processing. These are prodded and sometimes torn apart by the restless yet simultaneously restrained contributions of the rest of the band, particularly double bassist Johannes Frisch.
On Cicadidae, bass and drums provide restrained slo-mo pulses and fragile, resonant jazz stylings, which are often looped and treated to frame Weber's yearning guitar lines and cloudy atmospherics. Often ("Mantra", "Sie tranken Regen") the music sounds like a 60s Blue Note session beamed in from a parallel universe. Dietrich Foth's saxophone unfurls smoky, hesitant lines and gentle, abstract flutterings, while Frisch provides deep, resonant throb or occasional muttered creaks with the bow. The rhythms are gentle, yet insistent.
An exquisite, all too short reading of Annette Peacock's "Blood" is the album's highlight. Vibraphone and bass sketch the hymnal melody, joined by lush violin figures and soft digital crackle. It's exqusitely lovely. Having said that, there's little here that's not beautiful; there's much that's mysterious and opaque too, which gives the music its power. The same goes for the cover, which is one of the oddest to drop through the BBC letterbox for some time; it might be a still from an early David Lynch film, marked with a kind of surrealist, opulent decadence. Recommended.