2013 WhyPlayJazz (RS009), CD + MP3 Album Download
Kasper Tom Christiansen (dr, comp), Philipp Gropper (ts), Andreas Lang (b), Rudi Mahall (bcl)
First takes only. All compositions by Kasper Tom Christiansen except for tracks 2, 6 and 9 which are free improvisations. Recorded, mixed and mastered December 2012 at Berlinaudio by Christian Betz.
“You can look forward to some great music: FUSK represent the best acoustic jazz in Europe,” was what rockline.si wrote about their debut in 2011. And this is still true today: Together with Andreas Lang (QUARTz, a la Cour), Philipp Gropper (Hyperaktive Kid, Philm) and Rudi Mahall (Der Rote Bereich, Globe Unity Orchestra), drummer Kasper Tom Christiansen (QUARTz, Kran) managed to create a vibrant all-star band: Twelve-tone rows start to dance and are accompanied by swinging collectives and piping polyphonic sounds. The result: a lot of fun. According to webmoritz.de, FUSK release “a weightless depth and joy, followed by the desire to more often lead a life that has a multilayer soundtrack similar to this one.” True.
It all began five years ago in Berlin, relates Kasper Tom Christiansen: “I listened to Philipp and thought: ‘Something like this really does not exist anywhere else in the world!’” The band’s leader and drummer found that the tenor with the warm, personal tone perfectly matched Rudi Mahall’s quick-silvery bass clarinet. He completed the band with bassist Andreas Lang, another one of those Danes living in the international jazz city at the Spree river. Soon they started giving their first concerts and already the first CD with its succinct catchy compositions and improvisational wit reminded enthusiastic critics in Europe and America of Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy or the Dixon/Shepp band: altogether not the worst references. The Gapplegate Music Review sums it up as follows: “It's the kind of new jazz that takes the impetus of that era and goes someplace new with that”.
With »Super Kasper« FUSK advance to the second round. Contrapuntal springboard melodies, sometimes bordering on serial techniques (the Danish “De 12 Bud” means “The twelve commandments” in English), sometimes developing from joint improvisations (the Polish “odpowiedno” means “right, natural” in English). “There are people who make, what they call, music 2.0: Sounds without rhythm, New Music”, explains Kasper Tom. “We play with rhythm and swing: music 1.0.” “I don’t play free jazz. I play jazz free,” says Joe Lovano, a kindred spirit. Based on Kasper Tom Christiansen’s linear compositions, FUSK have found their own freedom. By the way, the band’s Danish name is similar to German. According to the German spelling dictionary Duden “pfuschen” is colloquial for “to work slovenly”. As FUSK would say: “Who cares?”
The music presented here emphasizes the freedom and openness in his compositions, which are based on short melodic themes which are then explored by the quartet quite liberally and without limitations. Of course even if the music is mostly improvised, both harmonically and rhythmically, it is neither chaotic nor disorganized, keeping well within the boundaries of group improvisation. The quartet members obviously listen to each other attentively and support each other constantly. There is an overall feeling of tenderness and respect and none of the aggression often associated with group improvisation is present here. The individual performances are all first class, with the two soloists obviously standing up front most of the time, but with the rhythm section firmly involved as well. Lang´s bass and Christiansen´s drumming are an excellent example of superb contemporary rhythm section work, which is nonabrasive and nonaggressive and yet keeps the music moving forward on a solid track.
FUSK [...] holt die wilden 1960er-Jahre in die turbulente Jetztzeit, zeigt, wie fließend die Grenzen zwischen frei Improvisiertem und Notiertem sein können. Trotz aller Retro-Tendenzen klingt die Musik dieses Vierers unverbraucht, frisch, aufregend. Übersetzt heißt „Fusk“ übrigens zu viel wie „Pfuschen“. Doch davon kann auf dieser CD nicht die Rede sein.
FUSK defines its own freedom, between contrapuntal springboard melodies, sometimes bordering on serial techniques, and catchy themes that employ hard-swinging rhythms, joint improvisations and expressive deconstruction of patterns, all performed with passionate playfulness and wise irony. [...] playful interplay, true to the spirit of this excellent quartet. Funny, inventive and provocative.
Leader Kasper Tom C. has managed to found a quartet utterly distinguished by the personalities of the players... and Kasper's energetic, rollicking vision of how a band can swing wildly and be filled with outside expressiveness throughout. This new album is even better than the last. Listen and you will be transported to a Super Kasper-land, a very good place to be indeed.
[...] Joe Lovanos Statement „Ich spiele nicht Free Jazz – ich spiele Jazz free“ machen sie sich zu eigen. Explosiv und dynamisch preschen sie durch die kompositorischen Vorgaben des Schlagzeugers Christiansen. Mit dieser zeitgemäßen Auffassung einer freien Spielweise, übersprudelnden Ideen und ungekünstelter Lebendigkeit definieren sie ihren Platz in der improvisierten Szene auf sehr eigenständige Weise.
FUSK doesn’t so much play free jazz, as set jazz free. Performing Super Kasper in a series of first takes, with three tracks presented as complete improvisations, this amalgam is simply too enterprising to fit into any one category. Call it FUSK jazz, if you like. [...] the group sets a tone of expectation-melting excitement [...] Pulse-quickening without slipping into hyperactivity, arhythmical without losing a sense of propulsion [...] Hair-raising, and then harrumphing...a raw, layered, madcap experience [...] endlessly intriguing [...] FUSK ends things with a moment of crackling interplay – showing once again their willingness to move outside of every convention we have about “outside” playing.
[...] this is a massive step forward. Challenging chords, imaginative thinking and superb performances. [...] The real thing that struck me from the first listen to Super Kasper was how many times I kept coming back to the record throughout the first week I got it. Fusk is a quartet of veteran musicians. But a quartet that has matured in its compositions and performances faster than you would expect. I really really loved this record. And it will be one of my best of albums of the year. Highly Recommended!
Super Kasper by Fusk is a pivotal album in the world of avant-garde jazz and improvisational music. Throughout the album, Fusk proves that avant-garde jazz is engaging, quirky, fun, and odd—all at the same time. [...] there is a poetic grace about the music, which screams innovation [...] Super Kasper is an interesting and productive work of musical art that should incite praise and adoration from avant-garde, improvisational, free jazz, and nu-jazz forms.
FUSK macht glücklich! So soll Quartett-Jazz sein: im Drive nicht zu bremsen, die Melodien klar konzipiert, aber nicht ausgedacht - und aus allen Knopflöchern quillt feiner Humor.
I presume that the new Fusk is even more mature proposal and will gain at least as high marks as the debut. Personally, music on Super Kasper warms me up so much that I might jump into the glacial this time of year Spree river to cool off a little bit and finish my bath in the vicinity of the Mühlendammschleuse floodgate after 55’26 seconds, because winter is a pretty hot season with this music.