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Zauss - 2011 - "Uberall in Terra Straniara Borders Beyond"

(62:01, Fazzul Music)


1.  Hymn 6:51
2.  Senza Messuna Eleganza 6:30
3.  Bewegung 5:27
4.  Moods 4:28
5.  Pastorale 5:29
6.  Wendepunkt 3:35
7.  Earthquake 5:16
8.  Kontaktspiel 3:27
9.  Quisquilia 4:43
10. Little Quakes 2:02
11. Strahlen 2:39
12. Migrazione 5:03
13. Meandering 6:20


Markus Stauss – saxophones 
Francesco Zago – guitars; loops

Prolusion. The international project ZAUSS consists of Italian guitarist Francesco Zago and Swiss saxophone player Markus Stauss, who have collaborated on a number of different projects over the years. Zauss is the name given to the sole project involving just those two, and so far four albums have been released under this moniker. "Uberall in Terra Straniara Borders Beyond" is the second of those, and was released through Stauss’ own label Fazzul Music in 2011.

Analysis. Zauss is among those projects that readily place themselves in the more challenging landscapes inside the progressive rock universe straight away. Saxophones, guitars and loops are the sole elements at play, and, from what I understand, free improvisations are the ongoing norm rather than the exception for all albums created by this venture. I don't think anyone will be offended if I state that this isn't the kind of music that will ever reach the dizzying heights of a Billboard chart anytime soon, and that this is music aimed towards more of a niche audience rather than aimed towards a mass market audience. Roughly speaking, I'll divide the songs, or improvisations, if you like, on this album into two different categories. One set of creations focuses more profoundly on the use of abrasive sounds and effects, where noisescapes, disharmonic arrangements and features of a similar nature dominate. Stauss' saxophone will occasionally add a more melody and harmony-oriented touch to these excursions, but, by and large, the dominant aspects of these creations remain inside the realm of the chaotic and highly challenging. There's always a direction at hand, a movement and development, even if not always with a set goal in sight. My main impression in general for the music of this album is that the journey itself is the goal here rather than reaching a conclusion or a set finish. Among the more intriguing pieces on the disc I'd highlight Earthquake and the closely related Little Quakes, both of which strongly resemble music I have heard that have been created using the documented wave patterns of actual earthquakes for inspiration. The other side of the album is much closer to what I would describe as Robert Fripp-sounding affairs, where textured, floating guitar details are given a prominent role, with or without additional guitar effects added in, with the saxophone used to contrast the more elegant motion of the guitar sound and effects with more powerful and, in some cases, more abrasive or dramatic sounds, ranging from uplifting pace-filled solo runs to dark, dramatic surges and various forms of more or less twisted effects. By and large, these escapades operate within a more compelling general landscape, less demanding or challenging, if you like, and the most striking of these is represented with the dampened solemn elegance of opening track Hymn. Both musicians are excellent performers, and as such, this isn't a production where the quality can be questioned by anyone. As with so many other albums that have been made, the qualities of this production is one that lingers on what kind and what type of music you enjoy listening to.

Conclusion. Challenging instrumental music with at times strong orientations towards free improvisations is the material you will encounter on this album. Avant-garde jazz having a meeting with what many would describe as freely improvised music, although perhaps not quite as oriented towards free-form jazz as many other such ventures. Those who enjoy this type of music, and find the use of abrasive effects and various kinds of noisescapes to be refreshing additions to such performances, should know their visiting time with this one.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: March 14, 2016
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Markus Stauss


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