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På skive


«Meteors: Message to Outer Space»
RENT A DOG, rad 2023-2

German, Cologne-based double bass master Sebastian Gramss founded the State of Play sextet as a sonic lab for pursuing the idea of radical sound morphing as an essential and style-forming component of the ensemble. With this ensemble, various concrete musical situations, meaning «States» (or sound states) are modified and de-constructed, abstracted and transformed, and then put together into completely new concrete sound images. Or as Gramss puts it: «Starting from known, familiar tonal starting points, we move towards an aesthetic expansion and transformation of sound situations – the result is an unheard music flow with fine-tuned emotional and intellectual balance …»

The double album Meteors is the spin-off sextet of the ensemble, augmented with a larger arsenal of instruments and guest musicians, and conceptualized as 17 short and peaceful reports from the supposedly wonderful planet Earth, but with its current, annoying “clusterfuck” situation, to intelligent alien entities somewhere in outer space. These brief orchestral and spacious sonic reports are diverse in tone, music and with a disturbing lyrical message, were composed, arranged and realized by bandleader Gramss, who is also responsible for the sound design and adds synths and prepared disklavier to his double bass. Obviously, there are SciFi references, but Gramss’ music rarely corresponds with the sonic, space journeys of Sun Ra and his Arkestras, though Gramss adopts Sun Ra’s philosophy that Space is the Place, but with an ironic detachment. The album was recorded live and in the studio of the Loft club in Cologne in June and July 2022.

Meteors offers a highly imaginative, cinematic journey into sonic territories that cherish odd grooves, atonal textures, strange and surreal electronic sounds, and complex, polyrhythmic patterns. The State of Play sextet – trombonist Shannon Barnett, sax player Hayden Chisholm, pianist and synth player Philip Zoubek, keyboard player Christian Lorenzen, and drummer Dominik Mahnig – juggle brilliantly and passionately with Gramss’ nuanced, electroacoustic motifs. The playful and often surprisingly swinging music is rooted in modern and free jazz but does not bind itself to what jazz has been or will become. In a way, Meteors suggests the way we would like to see planet Earth, or music at all – friendly and accessible, inspiring but spooky at times, and open to adventurous, intergalactic meetings.

Eyal Hareuveni

Shannon Barnett (trombone), Hayden Chisholm (saxophone, vocals), Philip Zoubek (piano, synthesizer), Christian Lorenzen (electric piano, synthesizer), Sebastian Gramss (double bass, synthesizers, prepared disklavier, sound design), Dominik Mahnig (drums), Thomas Sauerborn (drums), Stephan Vester (live effects), Shannon Barnett (vocals), Valentin Garvie (trumpet), Etienne Nillesen (prepared snare), Nicola L. Hein (guitar)

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