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Bauhaus - Stairway to Escher  CD (album) cover

STAIRWAY TO ESCHER

Bauhaus

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.23 | 15 ratings

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coasterzombie
3 stars No, this is not the goth-rock band of the same name; Bauhaus were an evolution of Buon Vecchio Charlie, playing strictly instrumental Jazz Rock. I hesitate to use the term fusion since the sound is much closer to jazz than that of contemporary groups such as Perigeo and Arti e Mestieri. In fact, if it weren't for the rock instrumentation, I would firmly place Bauhaus in the jazz oeuvre. However, there are a few funky moments here and there that mirror the work of il Baricentro and Duello Madre, and this album will appeal to fans of either. Unfortunately, this monster rarity has only been issued on CD once, by Akarma in 2003, and quickly went out of print. Collectors may be willing to justify its expense but the casual fan will most likely want to ignore this three-star anomaly.

As "The Lonious Gropious" starts, the most immediate and lasting comparison made is the output of Miles Davis' 1969-1970 group. Bauhaus never really ventures into the funk sound so prevalent on many fusion albums of the period, instead keeping one foot firmly planted in the jazz domain and sparingly adding rock elements as necessary. This theme continues into "Modulor," which begins with a very Coltraney saxophone intro, before settling on tempo and feel a minute in. Much of the music seems improvised, with just enough structure and composition to give the listener a framework. Like Miles Davis, Bauhaus recorded live in studio, but the final product is not cleverly edited or manipulated as Davis did on his groundbreaking fusion albums. What you see is what you get. Which for the most part is a good thing, if a bit unoffensive and monotonous.

"Bijoux" echoes the loose, pillowy sound of Perigeo at the beginning and end, with a healthy serving of funky jamming in between. "Section Aurea" recalls "The Lonious Gropious" quite a bit, and at this point it becomes evident that Bauhaus may be running low on ideas. The titular "Stairway to Escher" is more of the same, and its similar tempo and key really reinforce the feeling. "Ri-fusion" helps break up some of the run-of-the-mill performance on the preceding tracks, and has enough interesting and curve-ball moments to entertain the listener for its nine-minute length. Unfortunately this progress is all but lost on "Tipi Di Topoi," which to me sounds like an alternate take of the earlier "Bijoux" - the two songs are nearly identical. Jazz loyalists and completists may find enough material of interest on Stairway to Escher to justify its addition, but RPI fans will probably want to skip this one.

coasterzombie | 3/5 |

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