2011 WhyPlayJazz (RS005), CD + MP3 Album Download
Kasper Tom Christiansen (dr, comp), Philipp Gropper (ts), Andreas Lang (b), Rudi Mahall (bcl)
Recorded, mixed and mastered 2010 at Berlinaudio by Christian Betz. All compositions by Kasper Tom Christiansen. Track 5 and 8 also by Philipp Gropper, Andreas Lang and Rudi Mahall.
FUSK - that is Kasper Tom Christiansen (Kran, QUARTz), Andreas Lang (QUARTz, a la Cour), Philipp Gropper (Hyperaktive Kid, Philm) and Rudi Mahall (Der Rote Bereich, Fossile3) – shine with their witty way of playing and their inventiveness. The quartet covers a broad spectrum, from catchy melodies to complex structures and the expressive deconstruction of patterns. Seriousness and oddity reign together and topics and audio material are always dealt with in a playful and this way very refreshing way. A real feast for the ears!
This album is a superb example of contemporary modern European Jazz developed and created by a young generation of greatly talented individuals who are lucky to grow up in the affluent borderless Europe, which enables a much wider access to musical education and international cooperation than just a few decades earlier. These young musicians are able to size the moment and exploit this new reality, which results in an explosion of young international groups playing Jazz and Improvised Music all over the continent.
Christiansen, who has been recoding music both as a leader and a sideman for several years before forming FUSK, established his position as one of the leaders of this new European scene, playing extensively with Scandinavian, German, Polish and other young musicians and additionally developing his skills as a composer, which came to full fruition with FUSK. Here he presents his most adventurous works and the quartet turned out to be an ideal vehicle for exploring his music. He is one of the relatively few drummers, who are bandleaders and principal composers in their ensembles.
As a team Christiansen and Lang are one of the strongest and most imaginative rhythm sections on the European scene and this album is full of wonderful examples of their telepathic interplay. Supported by such an excellent rhythm section the two soloists are able to spread their wings and explore the freedom of improvisation in full. Both Gropper and Mahall gently weave their lush structures, both individually and collectively, creating a highly aesthetic whole.
Overall this is an exciting and wonderful album from start to finish, full of surprises and one that keeps the listener on his toes from start to finish. Considering the fact that it is a debut recording, the result is even more commendable. Well done indeed!
Fusk is an album of multiple ideas brought in from previous group experience. But where this quartet shines is that they are thinking one step ahead of their some of their European counterparts in that you once you’ve learned from your influences–what will you do with it. Fusk shows that you can do a lot. Enjoy…
Ebendieses Album setzt, selbst durch miserable Boxen, Kopfhörer und Anlagen, eine schwerelose Tiefe und Freude frei, gefolgt vom Begehren, das eigene Leben sollte öfters zu vielschichtigen Soundtracks wie diesem verlaufen.
What impresses me about this one is the total leverage of the unit. They kick the music with some torque and have well-poised forward movement. It's the kind of new jazz that takes the impetus of Ornette's early ensembles and the emerging masters of that era, like Simmons, Dolphy, the NY Contemporary Five, early Don Cherry and the Dixon-Shepp unit, and goes someplace new with that. They do a very good job at it. If you like the propulsed freedom of the giants that came before, you will find something new to like with Fusk. Recommended.
"Fusk" (fudge) - plain and simple, but not in that sense. Bandname and title of the debut record are the same. But not at all is the music ”fudge”. The young Danish drummer Kasper Tom Christiansen has during his Berlin settlement had the privilege of being joined in his quartet by one of Germany's most prominent jazz soloists, Rudi Mahall - with sax player, the young, also German, Philipp Gropper and his Danish partner from the berlin-base, Andreas Lang. A surprisingly strong group with an own sound, which especially depends on the original reed players - but also on the organic pulsating ”carpet” the Danes on bass and drums propagate, as the basis for creativity in the music. Christiansen has written some exceptionally strong themes, often in two-part, intricate lines, that the group turn and twist for all their melodic substance. In the group's melodic and tonal soundscape you hear kinship with the music of Joe Lovano, Ornette Coleman, Charlie Haden and Don Cherry's Complete Communion. So one doesn't long for "a good solo." But luckily they come - in full bloom along with many duo improvisations by the two reeds. Mahalls Baroque and edgy markato playing contrasts interestingly to Gropper's pronounced legato playing with the special matted and at times guttural tone on the tenor sax. Both are captivating improvisers who often intercept ideas from each other or from the thematic presentation. On the harmonic and rhythmic side there is Lang's bass, at once solidly supportive and open for solistic movement, and on the drums Christiansen is a tailored and fiery turmoil and commentator, as he is obviously the general for the refreshing variations in tempi and rhythmic patterns that pervade several tracks. In two collective free improvisations the group wisely keep track of direction and with sharp attention to each other's movements, seize the potential of dialogue and contrast. But the melodic value of themes and solo playing is undeniably the group's hallmark. For example the initial riff-styled and Coleman-like Ein Kopf Kaffe, bitte, and the harmonically long streched swinger Berliner Bratwunder plus the beautiful hymn-like November and the strongly cantabile Kammiena Wola in 5/4-time. The German-Danish quartet is, regardless of the name, a group that plays carefully embellished music, one would like to hear more of.
FUSK is one of those bands that creates a modern, innovative, new form of jazz, appropriate to the 21st century [...] Indeed, you can look forward to great music [...] they represent the best acoustic jazz in Europe.
FUSK moves in the area of tension between composition and improvisation in an original expression that is indicative of an orchestra that plays music with a very communicative approach. (...) Communication is always an important aspect in music, but positively in FUSK it is practiced as one of the absolute key parameters in the artistic expression. (...) Overall FUSK requires concentration and openness - but with this as the basis, the debut album is quite interesting, and I can imagine that a live concert by the quartet can be an exciting and inspiring experience.
The Danish drummer Kasper Tom makes his debut with a strong, well-toured and precise, hard-hitting album, that in a wonderful and off-centered way unites Germany and Denmark. Tom has good connections to the neighboring country south of the border, which explains the appearances of the Berlin based saxophone-comet Philipp Gropper and Rudi Mahall on bass clarinet. Moreover, the eminent bass player Andreas Lang provides Tom with great support. The group freely sets out from modern, experimental jazz and finds a consistently, captivating combination of abstract improv and hard-swinging interplay – not least thanks to Tom himself. At more times the individual tracks offer downright outstanding solos, played at a really high level. It is extremely competent and imaginative, but also acquires an open-minded listener, when the most avantgardistic elements fill the sound scape. 5 stars (out of 6).
But for those who do comprehend avant-garde jazz, it can be quite a pleasure to hear left-of-center musicians playing the type of music they enjoy instead of catering to a program director or a marketing department. And that play-what-you-feel-in-your-gut ethos is very much at work on this self-titled album by Fusk, a European avant-garde jazz quartet consisting of leader Kasper Tom Christiansen (who is from Denmark and writes most of the material) on drums, Berlin-born Philipp Gropper on sax, Denmark native Andreas Lang on upright bass and German-born Rudi Mahall on bass clarinet (...) Saying that Fusk would rather reflect and contemplate than confront is not to say that this album is without passion. There are plenty of passionate moments here. But the thing is that when Fusk decides to blow off some steam at times, they will build up to it rather than giving the listener scorching chaos from start to finish. There are some chaotic moments on “Eins Zwei Polizei”, “Ein Kopf Kaffe, Bitte” and the quirky “The Attack of the Überpea”, but it isn’t the sort of nonstop chaos and relentless sensory assault that the more extreme artists in jazz’ avant-garde are known for. Nuance is not a mere afterthought on this album, but an integral part of what Fusk do. And it should also be noted that Christiansen, Gropper, Lang and Mahall have a strong sense of teamwork on this album. The four of them are very much in sync, and together, they achieve a genuine group sound; they give the impression that they went into the studio with a sense of purpose.