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Track List: 1. Break Water 4:28 2. SFX 3:01 3. Art Birds 3:47 4. Play Black 3:39 5. SFX-Reprise 2:21 6. Angels In the Streets at Night 4:07 7. Air Certificate 1: 29 8. Razor Blade Soup 2:42 9. Jet Lag 2:31 10. Autumn Tune 1:59 11. Cool Breeze 1:31 12. Crimsonites & Other Species 5:24 13. Under Different Skies 8:55 All tracks: composed & arranged by Steinmetz & Taylor. Line-up: Hugh Steinmetz - - trumpet & flute; - reversed piano; varied percussion Robin Taylor - - electric guitar & bass; synthesizer, drum programming; - varied percussion & clay drums; looping & taping Rasmus Grosell - drums & percussion Anna-Lise Malmros - percussion Ture Kindt-Larsen - double-bass Peter Friis Nielsen - electric bass Kim Menzer - saxophone, trombone, flute, & harmonica With: Peter Ole Jorgensen - drums (on four tracks) Steffen Poulsen - saxophones; vocalize (on three tracks) Christian Kyhl - saxophones & flute (=) Marco Martinovic - piano (=) Christer Irgens Meller - piano (on two tracks) Michael Nielsen - saxophone & flute (=) Karsten Vogel - saxophones (=) Giorgio Musoni - drums (on one track) Produced by Steinmetz & Taylor. Recorded mainly by M. Nielsen at Sound Track, Copenhagen. Mixed by Steinmetz, Taylor, & A. Nipper.
Preamble. "Special Alloy" is the second album by the Danish band Communio Musica and is the brainchild of the famous jazz musician and composer, Hugh Steinmetz, along with our favorite Pilot to Free and other Universes, Robin Taylor. To read the other Robin Taylor related reviews, click here, here, and here.
The Album. "Steinmetz meets Taylor" would be the most correct definition of the music on "Special Alloy" if only the names of these remarkable musicians and composers would be known for most of the lovers of progressive music. Well, I am not going to continue telling you the story of brilliant, yet, highly underrated (or just unnoticed) representatives of our beloved music. So here is another general definition of the music on this all-instrumental album: Classic Jazz meets Fifth Element. In this very case, the fifth main genre of Prog includes Symphonic Art-Rock, Jazz-Fusion, and Avant-garde. There are only two tracks on "Special Alloy" that feature obvious repetitions: SFX & SFX-Reprise (2 & 5) and both of them are the most melodious compositions here. In fact, a melody is one of the constituents of music on about a half of the tracks here, though overall, its role on the album is insignificant, to say the least. With the exception of those on both of the aforementioned pieces and all three of the sketches: Air Certificate, Autumn Tune and Cool Breeze (7, 10 & 11), all the arrangements on the album are in the state of a constant development. The second of the said sketches features a few of the tunes of music of the East. Break Water, Angels In the Streets at Night, Crimsonites & Other Species, and Under Different Skies (1, 6, 12, & 13) are the brightest representatives of the album's predominant stylistics. All four of the remaining compositions: Art Birds, Play Back, Razor Blade Soup, and Jet Lag (3, 4, 8, & 9) are also very rich in varied stylistic colors, most of which are typical for the previously mentioned tracks. Here however, the symphonic constituent of the album's predominant stylistics is replaced with that of Free Jazz, and the brass-and-bass driven jams are here more eclectic and intensive than those on the other compositions. Apart from the instruments that I've implied in the previous sentence, the significant roles in the arrangements on the album play also pianos, synthesizers, drums, and a wide variety of percussion instruments.
Summary. "Special Alloy" is an album that it's hard to get into even after a few successive listens; however, its uniqueness and novelty are immediately recognizable, to be sure. Despite the fact that there is little common between the music of Communio Musica and that of Robin Taylor (in a general sense), those who like such 'universal' albums by Robin as "Experimental Health" (1998), and especially "File Under Extreme" (2002), should like "Special Alloy" as well. Highly recommended!
VM: March 11, 2003
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