The playing is melodic but percussive at the same time. It’s machine-like. It’s hypnotic. It’s fun to get lost in.
Manuel Pasquinelli – Drums; Maja Nydegger – Piano; Andi Schnellmann – Bass; Michael Gilsenan – Saxophone; Markus Ischer – Guitar
Swiss drummer Manuel Pasquinelli’s jazz band Akku Quintet have been compared to rock band King Crimson and minimalist composer Steve Reich. Akku Quintet have a new album, KINEMA, their fifth, and it will undoubtedly invite similar disparate comparisons.
Formed in 2010 the band’s original members are all still in place. Maja Nydegger is on keyboards. Bass is handled by Andi Schnellmann. Michael Gilsenan plays sax, Markus Ischer, guitar, and Manuel Pasquinelli on drums.
Minimalism is a style based on repetitions and combinations of simple motifs and harmonies. Akku Quintet have that but I also hear electronica, industrial, and jazz improvisation. I don’t hear a group taking turns soloing. ‘Zephyr ’is a good example of how Akku Quintet operate.
Nydegger plays a simple riff on piano. Drums and bass step in. Guitarist Ischer and Gilsenan quietly enter the fray and the music keeps building in intensity.
What they’re playing individually may sound simple but there’s a lot of musical interplay and collaboration. The playing is melodic but percussive at the same time. It’s machine-like. It’s hypnotic. It’s fun to get lost in.
Nydegger starts title track ‘KINEMA ’on electric keyboard. Her right hand plays two notes over and over. Her left a six figure motif. Drums are aggressive. The sticks, snares, and toms sound ready for a march on the parade ground.
The keyboard pings, and they’re loud. I thought of those old war movies where the submarine is pinging and crew members are waiting for depth charges to start sliding off the side of the hull. A saxophone is hovering overhead. Ischer’s guitar uses repeating patterns as well but he adorns them with these greasy serrated lines and then the music gets stuck in this glorious swirling maelstrom until Nydegger pulls it all back with a few quiet delicate notes of piano perfection.
Gilsenan’s saxophone dreamily starts ‘Ink.’ Nydegger’s electric keyboard pumps out repetitive patterns that get louder and louder. Bass and drums play this thumping funk groove. Ischer’s guitar noodles insistently and there’s electronics that sound like something’s shorting out.
Ischer later switches gears and plays these shimmering discordant lines that are frighteningly beautiful. If you took what these players were doing individually? It might not mean much. But stick it all together? It’s a collaborative effort that really cooks!
KINEMA is my first brush with the Akku Quintet. I’m looking forward to exploring their back catalog. Maja Nydegger is in another Swiss band Blaer. From what I’ve heard the band is quieter than the Akku Quintet but I’m interested in any band she’s a part of.