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Zauss - 2014 - "Diafonia Leitmotiv Waves"

(68:43, Fazzul Music)


1. Introitus 2:37
2. Senza Troppa Eleganza 5:28
3. Gran Notturno 6:59
4. Diafonia 5:17
5. Lamento 9:34
6. Crescendo con Fuoco 6:20
7. Adagio Molto 9:35
8. Nordwind 4:37
9. Prima Dell'Alba 7:43
10. Wie Kinder 5:34
11. Es Fuegt Sich 4:56


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. "Diafonia Leitmotiv Waves" is the most recent of those, and was released through Stauss' own label Fazzul Music in 2014.

Analysis. Following run-throughs of three Zauss albums in short order, I was rather expecting the kind of material I would encounter on this CD: experimental and unconventional music, where the expression avant-garde is a firm presence throughout, and music that might as well be described as avant-garde jazz. The compositions tend to have an improvisational flair to them, at times of a rather free and liberal variety, but there's also a great deal of diversity at hand, at least when regarded inside this specified context. Just like the previous excursions made by this creative partnership, the music is rather constantly demanding and challenging on most levels. Conventional melody lines are few and far between, ordinary harmonies an alien presence, while twisted, distorted and atonal sounds and effects are natural inhabitants in this landscape alongside disharmony-oriented arrangements and instrumental motifs. Floating, dark guitar textures with something of a Robert Frippian sound to them, supplemented by fairly gentle saxophone details, are placed side by side with hard, abrasive and chaotic soundscapes; solemn dark-toned landscapes with twisted shrill saxophone cries are next door neighbors to chaotic runs through dramatic landscapes with twisted guitar riffs and harsh saxophone movements, moving as perfectly in unison as a squirrel and a bison. This is an album of stark contrasts, as well as carefully supplemental unobtrusive landscapes, where the most dramatic excursions may well be presented in a dampened manner and the more unobtrusive ones with a shrill and twisted undercurrent. Some of the song titles do indicate rather nicely what kind of music we are about to be treated too: Lamento is not what anyone would describe as an uplifting venture and Nordwind does, indeed, feature some rather cold and harsh sounds that bring associations to a chilled Siberian-originating draft to mind. As with all other albums I have encountered by Zauss, the musicianship is, from what I can hear and comprehend, impeccable. How interesting the end result is will come down to subjective taste in music, though. I have played this music to people who cannot comprehend why this album was recorded and released in the first place, where noise is probably the most flattering remark they have made, while a select few have responded with a desire to know the name of the artist so that they could seek this music out and inspect it in a more careful manner when time allows, both reactions coming from people with a much deeper than average interest and knowledge about music.

Conclusion. The creative partnership of Francesco Zago and Markus Stauss continues to explore music at the edge of what many people would describe as music on their fourth production. Avant-garde, challenging and demanding, to the extent of making a good call for being a poster child of those expressions, arguably to be sorted somewhere on the borderlands between avant-garde progressive rock and avant-garde jazz. Those who have a taste for both those types of music strike me as the perfect audience for this specific album, and in particular those who have an affection for the more daring excursions of this type of music.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: April 15, 2016
The Rating Room

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Markus Stauss


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