Things without words #28: how to best melt in this heat

“New Chapter” by Kaos Protokoll | This time last week I posted something that I called “Monday music”. Today I’m posting something that essentially is Sunday night music, for those boozy days when you’re winding down with both anticipation and dread for the start of the workweek. Not exactly apt, but then, there’s another particularly suitable use for it, at least for my compatriots reading this: it’s a particularly hot summer, and this song feels like walking down city sidewalks at lunchtime and you’re this close to melting. It’s a bad feeling, but this is a good soundtrack. Yes, it’s another Swiss jazz band from my inbox: Kaos Protokoll have just dropped their EP New Chapter last week, although this song has been bouncing around the past few months. It’s got that nice swell, that sultry saxophone tempered by that build-up of percussion and electronics into something more four-dimensional, more not-easy-to-decipher, more… well, more of a melting pot. We feel like melting. I know they’re from Switzerland and their summers aren’t bad like ours, I assume, but still, this is a good way to melt. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)


Things without words #27: neon-lit, almost-noir post-jazz

“Mount Ninja” by Me&Mobi | I was supposed to post this last week, but somehow I forgot – busy schedules, as always. But I listened to half of Agglo, the new album from Swiss-German jazz trio Me&Mobi, and I remember it being more accessible that it was sold as. It might be difficult, I was told, but actually, it isn’t. Am I showing off supposed jazz chops? I can’t play any instrument, and whatever jazz I grew up with is strictly smooth, the stuff purists might scoff at. But this, I immediately got into. It made an impression, the organized cacophony, that I knew how to write the review – but then, I forgot to. But impressions have been made, and now I’ve listened to Agglo in its entirety, and while there are bursts of weirdness some might find off-putting, there is a beauty in the cacophony – the patterns you don’t spot so easily, the permutations you don’t get on the first try. Perhaps you’re bombarded until it makes sense; perhaps you’ll find something to latch on quickly. It’s a swarming, buzzing, neon-lit, almost-noir, past-midnight trip. It’s a bit of escapism. It’s fun. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)

Things without words #26: Soundtracking the prelude to the big fight

“Flake” by Egopusher | The band is called Egopusher: they’re a duo – Tobias Preisig and Alessandro Giannelli – halfway between Berlin and Zurich. Yes, it’s another one of those weird things from that side of the world that I get from the inbox. But this one’s fun, and surprisingly, quite accessible. On Friday they’re dropping a new album, Blood Red, filled with instrumental tracks that don’t feel out of place in a film sequence where the Good Guy prepares for the Prelude to the Big Fight – you know, the one he inevitably loses, only to get better at the end. It’s not fast-paced – in fact, it takes its time, all the tracks – and almost always ends in a nice build at the end, when things swoosh in and the Good Guy realizes he has the formula. Well, of course he doesn’t, so he tries again. Blood Red is an album of just that: attempts, feelings of euphoria, and a constant quest for improvement, with a hint of failure nestled in between. It’s an interesting record. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)

Things without words #25: Jazz bending time (we’re pretty sure of that)


“Taubenfeld” by Kuhn Fu | Let me set the scene here. I write this on a Saturday afternoon. The temperature’s a sweltering 33 degrees – knowing Manila, this will feel more like 40, especially now that summer is kicking in. My social media feeds is filled with reminders on how to beat heatstroke, apparently because the sun is closest to the equator or something, which makes me wonder why this never came up before. I’m reading Monocle – I finally got a subscription – but couldn’t really focus because of the heat. I’m also nursing a headache. All I did was drive in the morning. Today I listen to Kuhnspiracy, the new album from Groningen band Kuhn Fu. (The founder is a guy named Christian Kühn. Smart.) The band’s a fun mix of jazz, rock and all those things – but perhaps more importantly, it somehow seemed to fit the very sweltering summer heat. It’s like time was bending. Things were going back and forth and back again. Maybe my headache got worse, but I don’t blame it on the album. It was quite trippy. In the right context, it will be. The album drops this Friday. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)

Things without words #24: Difficult, open-ended, and possibly fascinating

“5 (Valentin Liechti)” by UFO | Three things. One, I will be the first to admit that this is a pretty difficult album to make sense of. Two, the song I’m embedding does little to give a taste of the album – it’s really one of those things where you have to listen to everything. Three, I know I am publishing this the day after Valentine’s Day, when everybody feels lovey-dovey out of obligation – what will they make of this? (Shalla and I didn’t get involved this year, considering we just came from Taipei last week.) The band is called UFO: they’re another one of those Swiss acts that find their way on the blog, and they’re releasing a new album, III, in a week and a half. The lazy will call this an experimental record; they’re playing up the improvisation angle here. The band invited five guest musicians for one mostly improvised recording session, KL each, then invited six sound artists to make something out of the sessions (thus the Valentin Liechti subtitle); supposedly they’re making sense of the link between documentation and performance in these times. Well, to me, it is a record that you really listen to, and one that makes sense after a while – but it will depend on what you’re thinking at that moment. Me, I was thinking of how to slot this in the day after Valentine’s Day. So… horror date stories? Waking up to a person you didn’t expect to wake up to? Maybe a dystopian story of romantic bliss? Up to you. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)