THE KANDINSKY EFFECT – Synesthesia

Cuneiform

Warren Walker: saxophone, effects; Gäel Petrina: bass, effects; Caleb Dolister: drums, laptop

Synesthesia is The Kandinsky Effect’s second outing, an unbloody album played with expectable technical facility that regrettably didn’t manage to ignite my avidity.

Ricochets of up-to-the-minute jazz-rock are defined by a degree of chilliness and dampened verve; one surmises the intent of catching the attention of “major summer festival” lenient audiences (you get my point), agelong reverberations sweetening the recipe. The pictural aspects are evident, privileging atmospheric blending to atomic detail: this makes the whole sound, at times, a little too undifferentiated and, in general, deprived of legitimate boldness. The melodic tasks are obviously carried out by Walker (composer of eight of the eleven chapters), his sax tone frequently enhanced by processing methods that inflate its timbral breadth. In some of the tracks – say, “Cusba” – a generic sense of noir-ish world-weariness permeates the interplay and the overall mood.

Indeed the record’s bulk sounds like a sonic representation of those bland days in which one desperately attempts to find something interesting to do to battle tedium. At the end, we look at what we just did but remain unsatisfied, still willing to change the way things are going. When the unit picks up the pace (“Walking…”), things go sufficiently well: temperate distortion eliciting healthier symptoms, irregular metres and well-disseminated linear dissonance helping our concentration not to dwindle away. Sometimes this mix of customariness and mild-mannered oddity produces bankable results; however we never cry miracle, nor acknowledge extremes of pathos and/or exhilaration. Yet one couldn’t really say that the substance is deleterious. Is this progressive lounge music of some sort? “Lobi Mobi/Hotel 66” resembles a “soft Curlew theme”, but we’re marine miles distant from that band’s ardent strength. “Lars Von Trier” inspires a dynamic investigation of a less unstartling type of interchange, the first time in which one authentically wonders what happens next.

All in all a polite release, but certainly far from the label’s milestones. The ultimate fault lies in the homogeneity of the instrumental direction in relation to the unremarkable traits of the compositions. Scarce variedness defeats practical prowess by unanimous decision.

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