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Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars You've probably heard it before. . . while checking in

This release from 1977 is German band PSI's only legacy in terms of albums. Their classification in the jazz rock sub-genre is entirely appropriate, although the jazz side of their music is much more pronounced than the rock. There are no thundering rhythms or screaming horns here, this is lounge jazz pure and simple. It is the sort of music for whiling away a few hours in soft romantic lighting, with nothing much to do.

The music is roughly evenly spilt between the sax playing of the wonderfully named Wilfried Kunkler, the mainly funky electric piano or keyboard player Mathias Frey, and the jazz guitar of Volkmar Zimmermann.

The best track for me by some way is the 8 minute "Breikopf", where the band actually infuse a degree of energy into the music. Here, we border on the rock side of jazz, but never actually take that leap of faith across the wall.

Listening to this album of what is unquestionably pure jazz, it does lead me to ponder where the boundary between prog and jazz actually lies. For me, while this album may contain elements used in prog, there is nothing which is actually prog here at all. That is not to say that prog fans will not enjoy it. Those who enjoy the looser sounds of bands such as Brand X and perhaps Soft Machine may well find this to their liking.

For the rest of us, the music here is inoffensive and pleasant. The musicianship is clearly highly competent, something which shines through even though the album was recorded and mixed in one week. It is in the end though unchallenging and far from attention grabbing. This is the sort of music you will hear in the background in a hotel lobby.

Report this review (#160404)
Posted Friday, February 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars With their sole output 'Horizonte', Psi managed to fit everything I love about jazz fusion into one concise package. Virtuosity, creativity, delicious improv, great songwriting, energy, progressive leanings, they all shine here. They have an interesting and unique sound that is distinctively theirs, but dynamic enough to create different atmospheres throughout the album.

Don't be fooled by the deceptively simple 2 minute opener. Don't get me wrong, its a solid fusion track, but only a sampler of sounds and songs to come. In Bettgerausche, the quiet reverberated guitar licks and melancholy accompanying saxophone lay the groundwork for a gorgeous progressive fusion track that sets the bar high for the rest of the album. And it never loses that high. The self titled track is certainly a highlight, opening with complex keyboard melodies that sonically dart around almost too quickly to keep up with. The rest of the track seamlessly entwines these melodies with jaw-dropping improv from the keys, guitar, and sax player.

Also worth mentioning is the virtuosity of the musicians here, especially the keyboard playing of Mathias Fray. Maybe I'm a bit biased being a keys player myself and fully realizing how far his talents reach, but nonetheless he surprised me time and time again throughout each track. Certainly not to understate the efforts of the other musicians, the guitar playing is as fast as it is inspired, and the saxophone adds a lot of great sound to the band. Needless to say the rhythm section does its job, and very well at that. Their chops match the often quirky music exceptionally well.

Tough to recommend anything quite like this, as it is very unique music. Lotus' two albums come close, though this has more of an easy-listening vibe to it. Perhaps a better known comparison would be Brand X. It reminds me of a quirkier 'Unorthodox Behavior' at times, and the jazzy vibe is similar.

All in all it is one of the best fusion albums I've discovered here, and I'll recommend it in a heartbeat to anyone with an interest in the genre.

Report this review (#210976)
Posted Saturday, April 11, 2009 | Review Permalink

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