Lila is the sixth album of the Austrian hard-working septet Shake Stew, led by bassist-composer Lukas Kranzelbinder with its unique configuration of two bassists – Kranzelbinder, who plays the double bass and doubles on the Moroccan bass guembri and Oliver Potratz who plays the six-strings Fender Bass VI, two drummers – Nikolaus Dolp and Herbert Pirker, and a front line of three horn players – tenor sax player-flutist Johannes Schleiermacher, trumpeter Mario Rom and alto sax player Astrid Wiesinger. Shake Stew recorded the album at Westbahnstudios Vienna in November 2022.
Shake Stew worked on this album with local producer Marco Kleebauer who has worked with local, indie rock, hip-hop and trip-hop outfits like My Ugly Clementine, Bilderbuch, Sharktank, Leyya. And, indeed, the production of Lila refines the seductive-hypnotic, African-tinged and trance-like multilayered grooves of Kranzelbinder’s compositions and Sheke Stew’s emphatic dynamics and contributes to the introspective and highly melodic atmosphere of Lila. Shake Stew also collaborates with the Veiennese, Nigerian-born spoken word artist Precious Nnebedum who recites her poem «Not Water But Rest» on the opening piece.
Lila reflects the strong influence of the film world on Kranzelbinder’s music, and pieces like «Shasta Fey» reference a character from Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice (2014, based on Thomas Pynchon novel from 2009), and «Detroit» is a homage to a scene in Jim Jarmusch’s film Only Lovers Left Alive (2013, set against the romantic desolation of Detroit). But perhaps the last piece on the concise Lila captures best the new evolutionary phase of Shake Stew, the live performance of the gentle and lyrical «Breathe» with its reserved but openly emotional excitement and thrill that suggests a kind of much-needed collective exhale. Or as Kranzelbinder explains: «when you run a long distance, there is often the recommendation not to stop immediately at the finish, but to go out slowly. This is exactly how I feel about Breathe.»
Lukas Kranzelbinder (double bass, guembri), Astrid Wiesinger (alto saxophone), Mario Rom (trumpet), Johannes Schleiermacher (tenor saxophone, flute), Oliver Potratz (Fender Bass VI), Nikolaus Dolp (drums, log drums), Herbert Pirker (drums, percussion), Precious Nnebedum (voice)