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Ulterior Lux - 1990 - "The Dancing Man"

(68:00, Fazzul Music)



1.  Waste of Time 5:36
2.  Slant Lines 3:46
3.  Bloodriffs 6:11
4.  Output Blues 9:36
5.  K1 7:14
6.  Mental in a Peachan 8:16
7.  Look for Your Own Way 6:01
8.  Ghosts 3:38
9.  A 90 19:52
10. K1 The Ballade 3:24


Markus Stauss – saxophones
Jean Chaine – bass; voice
Dimthings – drums; voice

Prolusion. ULTERIOR LUX is one of the – several – bands and projects led by Swiss saxophonist and composer Markus Stauss. The outfit has existed from 1990 to ‘97 and has three albums to its credit, “The Dancing Man” (1990), “Evergreen” (1996) and “Adventures” (1997/2009).

Analysis. For an album that was recorded live at one stretch, “The Dancing Man” is overall a surprisingly cohesive output and has a more saturated sound than the one we normally expect from a trio, especially since it didn't use overdubs after the session was finished. There are ten tracks here, three of which are instrumentals, and while the others each only contain one quatrain of lyrics on average, the singing is rather unimpressive and is generally unnecessary, in my honest opinion, so I won’t touch on the matter henceforth. The music as such is for the most part improvised; nonetheless, the playing is comparatively disciplined on all of the pieces, save K1 The Ballade and particularly Ghosts, which sounds excessively eclectic, almost chaotic in places. Built up from slap bass lines, Waste of Time suggests traditional jazz by means of a rock trio (lacking a better expression), as also do Output Blues and Bloodriffs. Indeed, in spite of the often-fixed, riff-like, bass parts, the music doesn’t really resemble rock whether it’s intense or restrained. As for details, the former two pieces each have a 1-minute long intro only featuring a bass and sax respectively, whereas the latter has a full-band sound throughout. Overall, however, it can be stated that on each of them the trio lays down a driving groove with Dimthings’ drums, topping it with a unison line between Jean Chaine’s bass and Markus Stauss’ saxophone, and then, somewhere in the middle of the piece, the players are all off into solo territory. Although a very long track (19:52), A 90 is construction-wise in many ways similar to the previously describing ones. It begins and develops in a relatively melodic manner, but then assumes a shape of classic improvisational jazz with plenty of differently vectored leads, at times courtesy of all of the musicians. To be more precise, it more often happens that one or another of them delights in bringing together his fellow partners in a duet combination, calling on the power of the full trio when required. K1 reminds me of psychedelic Jazz Rock of a sort, a style marked by the imaginative way of taking a set melody, infusing it with the spirit of jazz improvisation, highlighting subtle details of sensitive instrumental interplay. Developing with the powerful flow of ideas, Slant Lines is nothing other than Zeuhl/RIO in style and is my favorite track on the album. The group interplay is especially diverse here (no unison leads), and the musicians often work their ways to the outskirts of the instruments for maximum intensity, not afraid of atonality when necessary. The remaining two compositions, Mental in a Peachan and Look for Your Own Way, are also remarkable, though. Bass is the star here, and Jean Chaine plays in an impressive and versatile way, using the distortion pedal to get a sound that’s heavier than, say, an ordinary fuzz bass, at times almost comparable to guitar riffs in ‘meatiness’ and aggression alike. However, both of the other musicians get their turn to take a lead role too, Stauss deserving special mention for numerous impressive solos.

Conclusion. Most of this album is rather complex jazz-related music that challenges the senses while often being clearly improvisational in nature. With the exception of Ghosts and – partly – K1 The Ballade, the pieces are either listenable or really compelling, while the playing is top-notch almost throughout. Jazz rock aficionados won’t be disappointed, to say the least.

VM=Vitaly Menshikov: July 17, 2012
The Rating Room

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