The Eclectic Blah Album – Track by Track (Part I)

Introduction

Contrary to most “track by track” description, this document is not sorted and group by the tracks, but by the concerts these tracks came from, and for a simple reason: those different sources are in fact very different, musically, sonically, and of course with regard to the lineup.

With recordings drawn from a period between January 2003 and May 2004 (with Driving Home Slowly the addition from the Reverse Engineering realtime remix concept performed in March 2005), Eclectic Blah ran through several changes during that time.

Early in 2003, Eclectic Blah’s second incarnation was already firmly established: with JLM Bauer having left the ensemble and Christian Klos (bass guitar) aboard for quite some time, the regulars with the ensemble were, next to Christian and founding members Ralf Gruber (drums, bass guitar) and myself, Erik Müller and Jan Kühner on guitars and Franz Wechtenbruch (drums). During that time, Gruber typically performed either percussion parts or a second bass guitar part – and it’s percussion on the total of three tracks contained here from the The Last Days of Veedolkeller and The Ebersberg Enigma concerts.

With Müller resigning by mid-2003 to focus on his Vortex Ghost/Die Arschbomben project, Wechtenbruch moving to Australia and Klos resigning but not being able to let go for some time, the intense period from January to May 2004 (which provided six of the ten tracks of this release) had a relatively high count of varying guests on the sansserif and Nocturnal Emission concerts, before settling into a neatly working lineup for Fractal Dimension with bassist, Thomas Würdinger, just before I decided to disband the group, simply because it worked so well. During that four-month period, the only steady thing was the Gruber/drums-Straschill/synth combo, combined with a total of three guitarists, three bassists, a sax player and a percussionist.

For the epitaph of Reverse Engineering, it was just Luke Cyrus Götze on guitar (who had also performed on the sansserif concert) and myself triggering loops and samples from Eclectic Blah concerts while letting arpeggiators run as a realtime remix.

So how did this variety work out?

The Ebersberg Enigma

Landkreis_phonky
Phonky Phrance doing his “Landkreis Debut”

Eclectic Blah had always had a strength in performing opening tracks, and Spheres from this concert was no exception: it’s Erik Müller starting on acoustic with chords, before Klos starts with a two-note bass figure, joined by myself with a funny S&H-filter patch I had done on the Micromodular and later a theme consisting of two notes, Jan Kühner with simple arpeggiated chords on guitar, Franz Wechtenbruch with a basic drum groove, to which Ralf Gruber adds an occasional snare hit and a shaker.

There’s not much more happening in this track, and that is the beauty of it. The group jointly deciding to take it into a B part and back into a more dense head out, how Christian sucessively intensifies his bass line, the nice interplay between Ralf’s and Franz’ snares – the fun happens in the details here.

sansserif

This concert took place at Salon Erna – tall room, walls in light colours, tall windows – and the music sounds exactly like that. Lineup-wise, there’s Ralf (drums), Luke Cyrus Götze (guitar), myself (synths, more specifically Wavestation, Sirius and Micromodular) and Christian Klos on bass for Tiny Bugs vs Jack Traherne for Horst’s New Condominium.

Tiny Bugs starts off with a fake Didgeridoo (from the micromodular), on top of which the band enters. From the musical development, this one is led by Luke’s catchy theme (which starts with a motif common to a total of three tracks), but this track wins due to the nice things others do to complement this. There’s Christian’s very clean an deep bass (and also the only bass solo of the album), and Ralf is playing a really interesting part with almost no cymbal-based pulse, but cleverly playing lines almost melodically over the snareless snare drum and the toms. Finally, you have the rather sparse synth voicings running into a funny multitap delay, which extends through the breakdown section and trails after the end.

Horst’s New Condominium, on the other hand, is more or less Jack’s tune, and his playing over the whole register using double stops and harmonics really forms a challenge sonically. to emphasize the powerful yet cold feel of the track, the snare drum here is made to sound truly piercing, using a ring modulator. The track also contains the heaviest solo of the entire album (performed by Luke), before it ends with a wonderfully played-out suspended 4th in the closing bars.

Nocturnal Emission

fuhrpark_moinho
Straschill visible behind some gear

Part of the Abfunk concert series, this event at Monofaktur München was another sixpiece fun – this time, however, adding recurring guests Filzinho (percussion) and Wolfi Schlick (reeds), and as a new face, Jörg Weger on guitar, to the established Gruber/Klos/Straschill basis.

There is a preconception what will happen when a group of people with rock and jazz background get together and decide to improvise – yet In Deep Water was, nearly three years into Eclectic Blah’s existence, the first time that we played a blues.

You have Wolfi and Jörg starting gently with an introductory melody, before the rhythm section kicks and Wolfi starts to add space echo, multi-vider and wah to his tenor sax sound. After two chorusses, it’s time for me to take an electric piano solo, shifting up gears in the process, before Wolfi delievers another blistering solo.

Jörg then decides to bring the volume down and the lineup to a threepiece, before the Gruber/Klos/Weger trio truly shift into overdrive,including a stunning performance by Gruber himself.

Quite differently, Solid State is driven by Jörg’s theme, immediately after I started it with some synth percussion hits from the ending chord of the preceding track. With Wolfi and Filzinho taking a pause, it’s again a really simple tune, yet it gets its raw power from Ralf’s stripped down groove and the pulses the remaining members add to Jörg’s performance. There’s even a second theme from the Q in the middle, and a short solo break in a bridge section.

(to be continued…)

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