Cats ‘n’ Strats 2022
Out of Linz to obliterate jazz-rock’s too-literate glitterati, newly formed trio light the candle to feline liberties.
The very title of this album oozes cool, and its very first lick feels so bluesy that the listener’s bound to swoon, go, “Ooh!” and begin to groove – only the fusion this ensemble hasten to unfold doesn’t follow a singular stylistic template, and there’s no need for such strictness over the course of 1:11:11 the record lasts before getting signed off on with ballsy abandon. Yet, despite the variety on offer, the combo’s music might seem troublesome sometimes, as the artists all too often fly off on a melodic tangent before the original tuneful image is completed. However, one won’t find it difficult to admire the Austrian trio’s dexterity and dynamic scope, their interplay tasty and telepathically tight-but-loose – and, thus, high on contrast.
This approach defines the romantic sway of “Hustle & Slo” where the group leader Joe Doblhofer’s six strings bounce off the rustle of rhythm section to glide close to the ground and be able to turn funky and stumble across ever-shifting tempos – as they also do later on on “Lost In The Shuffle” – until the solo privileges are passed to Gerald Kiesewetter’s swelling bass and then withdrawn for Florian Kasper’s drums to dance lightly. So when a slider is rolled on the otherwise dry, albeit bombastic, “Soldersniffer Blues” and “Loony & Blue” and guitars get layered to create precarious sonic pyramids, especially on the nuanced latter number, the players’ proclivity for locating fun in sophisticated arrangements can’t be ignored, and the riffs of “Tech Republic” add quite a few quirks to the overall extravaganza.
The band have a knack for painting pensive aural pictures as well, if the retro twang of “(Ballad Of The) Blue Genes” is anything to go by, its epic, multipartite drift kept in check thanks to the instrumentalists’ unhurriedly translucent approach, while the tremulous grandiosity behind “Black Sheep Waltz” renders this piece as a richly colored, rippling folk-rock tapestry, and the broad, somewhat abstract strokes make “Ln” elevate its melancholy to the clouds and swirl there with the thunder.
Still, the storm that’s about to befall “Cats ‘n’ Strats” never arrives, leaving the album in the state of limbo which their next album will surely unbalance for good.