Czech experimentalists expand their chamber presence beyond the pale and welcome the world into their headspace.
As a rule, too much dust in the groove would render a record unlistenable and has to be blown away, but this Brno-based septet’s debut album was designed to blow away any prejudice lodged in the grooves of their listener’s mind and liberate it, giving everyone an opportunity to enjoy what’s labeled as “jazz” on so many a level. “Labeled” – because there’s no better term than “jazz” for the music the classically trained performers do when flexing improvisatory muscle while wrapping their acoustic lines around melodies written by reedman Radim Hanousek. But the results of such a process are so enchanting that an attempt to categorize the sixteen tracks on offer will get blown out of the water, too – as soon as the first cut signals the start of an engaging trip through mostly serene moods and pastel colors.
With three nigh-on orchestral, albeit stylistically different, numbers titled “Fanfara” scattered across these grooves and three pieces called “Impro” marking abstract flights of fantasy, the record has a concept feel to it, yet the album’s inner logic lies in the mélange of freedom and grandiosity which rarely mix perfectly in symphonically informed genres and also happen to be as unhinged as they are here. Minimalistic on the funereal “Sachte (Gently)” where Hanousek’s saxes welcome accordion for a folk dance before vocals join in on “Bacovicka” which is spooked once the splashes of marimba shatter trumpet licks, and rather vigorous on “Spesne (Hopes)” where double bass and drums rule the den, the tunes on offer feel invariably vibrant – perhaps, never more as vividly as on the percussive “Kalupinka (Mould)” that’s high on the ensemble’s mesmeric interplay. Still, the epic shifts of “It Could Happen” stress the artists’ creative weirdness no less spectacularly, weaving an arresting sonic tapestry and leaving to the voice-driven “Requiem” to dissolve the mirage in deceptively disparate sounds and to the unison-flaunting “Spolu 2 (Together)” to tie all the strains again.
Whereas “Etude L” could have been torn off oratorio and thrown to the wind, swirling in the air, and sparse rhythmic patterns hit the abrasive “Honem (Come On)” and propel parping brass towards delirium, Bach’s “Aria” – suspended in crystalline stasis – provides a glorious finale to this thrilling opus. Introducing a humble force to be reckoned with, “Dust In The Groove” is a masterpiece for the inquiring mind.