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Serge Bringolf - Strave CD (album) cover


Serge Bringolf



3.68 | 24 ratings

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4 stars Teutonic fusion

Zeuhl has always been a branch of the jazz rock happening in the late sixties early 70s, and whilst a group such as Magma started out on the jazzier side of things, their real characteristic sound that made them (somewhat) famous is infinitely more rooted in the rock side of the equation. The best word I can come up with, that somehow encapsulates this magnificent genre, although there are many different aspects to it, is perhaps teutonic. Serge Bringolf's Strave certainly fits the teutonic moniker. It's music that towers high over you like one of those mechanical octopus robots from War of the Worlds - walking rigidly through the landscape with the confidence of a true colossus.

The first cut here perfectly puts this imagery into focus. Rumbling fusionesque drumming with a unique sound to it - that has me thinking old hollow fuel containers and skips turned into percussive instruments. Swarming around these wonderful and rather tribal sounding drums, is a fantastic bass that edges its way into the most narrow of musical corners - sweeping every little note and expression around it up - enhancing it and then putting a spin on the sucker. Like most of my Zeuhl records, Strave is about the close and loving bond between these two pelting lovers. On this opening track the feel is almost symphonic - it is gentle and swaying - huge in size - opening up in these towering sonic sculptures. Had it not been for the openly tsch-tsch-tssscchc old school jazz rhythm - this one could have been a terrific symphonic epic with all what that entails of exotic fruits and capers. But it isn't - because hanging lightly onto the suave and docile teutonics here is this cold ethereal female voice, that to start with sounds just like an overweight opera-singer getting surprised in the shower with a sudden burst of ice cold water: AAOOOUGHHHHHH WOOOOOAAAAARRHHGGG. Instead of pausing her early morning shower serenade, she stumbles a bit thereby altering the tone of her voice slightly - picks herself up heroically and suddenly hits that sweet lofty spot, where this kind and jazzy brand of Zeuhl suddenly comes together and grows in size like a small horse on viagra.

After this piece of ethereal Zeuhl - I felt like I had this under wraps - like I knew what this thing was all about, but alas - or should I say fortunately I was dead wrong. Not that I wouldn't mind a whole album filled with music like this, but this is a double album, and when that second track first gets going, you just know you're in for a real treat.

I'm not going to make a track by track review - mostly because I am far too messy and all over the place for such a thing to work well, but also because it would take me half a bible to do so. Stick with the bible, if you want length ladies! I would, however, like to mention the second track here that kind of shatters one's hopes for a full so-called ethereal Zeuhl album. It is an astonishing track, and to people like myself who have grown up in Denmark with all these famous children's stories around them(Scandinavia has had a long-standing tradition of imaginative children's literature fx Astrid Lindgren), just think of Folk og RÝvere I Kardemommeby! Alright that probably didn't make much sense to most of you people, but this track reminds me so much of a book called Folks and Robbers in Cardamom Town(Loosely translated). This town is home to a lovable group of thieves who every night go out and rob whatever they can find. They usually sing about it in loud voices as well, which kind of ruins the plot altogether. Anyway, when these guys go out to sneak in the middle of the night - with cat paws and stealth mode, albeit singing, this is the kind of music I get. This Zeuhl! Man I was almost in tears - laughing like a buffoon when I first made this strange connection. Katjing! It's those robbers man!

Enough of that already! Yeah well sometimes I have to stop myself, before everything winds up in preschool city talking about Care-bears and Bugs Bunny. Let's get down to brass tax here! If you want something out of the ordinary - something that swings, towers overhead you with the will of a dozen cement crows - basking dark fusion and Zeuhl vibes in your face like it was going out of fashion, then throw your dog in the river immediately and get this pronto! Occupying the jazzier realm of Zeuhl, Strave utilizes tight and dry rhythm textures that seem to float alongside a wonderful concoction of reeds, doomsday piano, violin, operatic yet soothing vocals and bass lines that could borrow their way down to China inside the first few bars. A deep sonorous bass mole.

Strave is unique in the way that it feels like an early fusion record with all the maniacal slingshot manoeuvres and grand hand gestures that such a thing entails, although bearing a striking resemblance to what the Zeuhl acts were trying to do towards the end of the 70s, which was funnelling the music downwards into the ground - making it earthier and more funky. Here it's exactly that as well as being the direct opposite - even if that makes absolutely no sense at all. Oh well, I've done my job if you're just as confused as I am. This is after all music...

Guldbamsen | 4/5 |


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