Review: Gestalt et Jive – Neowise (Al Maslakh, Aug 14)

The few fans of short-lived German avant-prog quartet Gestalt et Jive could conceivably have been anticipating a new album since their self-titled LP was released in 1986, but I think a great deal more people, including me, will discover the band for the first time with this well-retrospectively released collection of archival live recordings. Captured “during various tours in 1985,” Neowise collects ten untitled jams that perch atop the intersection of progressive rock/RIO and avant-garde jazz, distilling the four-piece’s infectious instrumental interplay of thick drum foundations, various horns, keyboard and guitar, and effects-laden bass into tightly-wound, incendiary grooves. “Movement 4” charts these seamless stylistic integrations over its duration, evolving from an almost hip-hoppy beat vamp complemented by hypnotically simple, repetitive guitar and bass parts into a full free-form freakout, riding the momentum of a spidery trumpet solo whose steady unhinging is the stabilizing thread between the track’s beginning and end. Since many, if not all of these segments comprise material that didn’t make it in onto the band’s studio LPs in named form (I haven’t yet heard either album, so I can’t confirm this 100%), they pretty much always feel like interludes, random non sequiturs, or even just moments of formless fuckery that happened to coalesce into something a bit more, but it’s not at all a weakness. Especially with the help of the warm, softening fidelity of the cassette tapes that were used to record it, this is music with all of its screws in their holes but without any of them actually tightened down, free to drift and undulate with appealing abandon.

All sales from the purchase of the digital-only album go toward victims of the explosion in Beirut, Lebanon earlier this month.