GERALD GRADWOHL – .​.​. Or What?

Gtone 2024

.​.​. Or What?

Long-gestating project bears defiantly satisfying fruits that beg to get savored.

Friendship must be one of the mandatory conditions for those eager to fashion a fusion album and share creative load with old buddies, brt there’s a fine line between commanding an ensemble and allowing your partners to contribute their ideas to what is essentially a musician’s solo offering. That’s why it took Gerald Gradwohl some time to finish “.​.​. Or What?” which the Austrian axeman started working on in parallel with "Episode 6" – the former credited only to him, the latter to the collective bearing his name – because liberty and responsibility are uncomfortable, yet mutually binding, bedfellows. However, these two concepts, approached ingeniously, can produce stunning results.

There’s nothing to prepare the listener for the delights to come – surely not an introductory soundscape of opener “Paradoxon” that lives up to its title by first peppering such a sinister wave with a scattered groove and then fleshing out this specter of a tune with more tangible rumble and strum. They soon solidify into perky riffs and effects-laden stings without ever disrupting the initial dynamic contrast until Gradwohl’s strings strip off their electronic guise and go frivolously romantic while embracing the sonics of brass and keyboards. Yet if “Cheap Chunk” resurrects ’70s funk with a lot of gusto, Bill Evans’ sax smearing the guitar whose licks roll over the tightly woven swing of Adam Nitti’s bass and Kirk Covington’s drums, and the funny “Unterwurzacher” rocks with heavy panache and bluesy abandon, especially when GG’s compadres fly solo, the expansive, albeit riveting, “The Colour Of Magic” appears to soar serenely and adventurously enough to evoke a certain Sir Terry Pratchett novel.

Hearing Kirk rap and slap on the punchy “What Are We Gonna Do Tomorrow” is unexpected, though, but great too, as is savoring Gerald’s acoustic, sometimes flamenco-esque lace on “Still There” that never feels like the epic it is, as opposed to the frantic swirl of “The Course” that places drums on a pedestal before the reggae-tinged “Gerephitti” gets rid of the cymbals’ rustle and stumbles elegantly towards the album’s finale. The finale which evokes the titular question and has the audience ask for another spin of the disc.


May 30, 2024

Category(s): Reviews
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