2019 WhyPlayJazz (WPJ046), CD + MP3 Album Download
Philipp Gropper (tenor saxophone, composition), Elias Stemeseder (piano, synthesizer), Robert Landfermann (bass), Oliver Steidle (drums)
All compositions by Philipp Gropper. Produced by Philipp Gropper for WhyPlayJazz. Recorded by Martin Ruch and Tito Knapp (assistance) at Zentrifuge (Berlin, Germany) on December 9th, 10th, 11th, 2018. Mixed and mastered by Martin Ruch at Control Room (Berlin, Germany). Design and artwork by Travassos. Photos by Dovile Sermokas.
On "Consequences", Philipp Gropper's PHILM transfuses the navigation of everyday life into multi-faceted themes. Music on the cutting edge, music that does not shy away from the burning questions of the day, an amalgam of gripping compositions and strong individual statements revealing an emphasis on viable alternatives. Jazz that balances on the outer borders, strangely abstracted and at the same time insistent.
What a leap from one album to the next! "Consequences", PHILM’S new album, has lost none of the spirituality that permeated “Sun Ship”, their last studio release. The Berlin-based group continues to develop and refine their colorful, multi-layered and intimately entwined music – an unmistakable sound that grabs and doesn’t let go. These qualities, along with the desire to push and redefine boundaries, have created a special aura around PHILM and earned them a reputation as the "David Bowie of Jazz”.
PHILM: saxophonist/composer Philipp Gropper, pianist/synthesizer player Elias Stemeseder, bassist Robert Landfermann and drummer Oliver Steidle – four musicians who have captured the spirit of our times. "Consequences" is the band's first studio album with Robert Landfermann on bass, and with him they seem to have reached a new level.
In terms of composition, Philipp Gropper focuses primarily on three areas that can be summed up as responsibility and the resulting consequences. In interpersonal terms, he is concerned with our behavior in direct encounters and the attitude and reaction of the individual within the social framework. Philosophically, questions of larger interrelationships bother Gropper. And politically, he is concerned about privilege, the effects of neo-liberal society, the destructive dealings of the West regarding the eastern and southern hemispheres, and the resultant conflicts and responsibilities. PHILM's personal engagement with these three topics leads to the titles "32 Cents", "Consequences", "Saturn", "Forgiving" and "Thinking from the Future (Are You Privileged?)". Each song speaks of something else, something different; together they create a meta-level, a novel in sound that intertwines different storylines.
Is all this too complicated or presumptuous for a single album? By no means! Gropper and Co. know how to navigate complex topics, steering them towards communicative accessibility. PHILM functions as a filter, its perceptive sensors responding to ongoing personal and social processes, transforming them into a richness of musical textures and intriguing conversation.
Although the compositions have various musical reference points emanating from the inexhaustible history of jazz, electronic music, hip hop, new music and the classical music of Africa and India, the inspirations for these are usually extra-musical associations and observations, which then are transformed into musical statements. Using various compositional techniques, such natural phenomena as sound wave amplitude, sound propagation speed, observations of technological and digital phenomena, along with interpersonal relationships, scenarios, stories and social processes are translated into concrete musical images.
However, for PHILM, complexity is never an end in itself.
The band’s basic existential goal: the absolute internalization of the musical material; nothing should stand in the way of the intense flow, the liberated, direct statement. The multi-layered compositions reverberate with quintuplets, septuplets and iridescent polyrhythms, transforming a seemingly simple groove into a force that hits us all – strangely abstracted and at the same time insistent.
With the release of his Rework album on the Raster label, Producer Grischa Lichtenberger brings a completely different level into play. It’s a kind of personal reflection and translation of PHILM’s music delineated from the perspective of electronic music.
[...] Philm is an ever shifting bricolage of tones and textures, forced together into unsettling but ultimately satisfying music.
Mixing free jazz, electronic distortion, ambient sounds, and hip hop rhythm, this music is a bracing clash of styles. It can be intimidatingly aggressive, but it has enough familiar rhythms, particularly in the drumming, to give you a way in.
It’s touching, expressive and moving.
Consequences is a musical language on the verge of collapse. How it all stays together is anyone’s guess. This is a most impressive adventure in jazz.
These complex themes and topics are used by Gropper and Philm as instruments to push and redefine the jazz language by introducing provocative ideas from electronic music, hip hop, contemporary music and the classical music of Africa and India. The classic jazz line-up of this quartet often enjoys the urgent escape «into the unpredictable, dark corners of improvisation» while sketching detailed textures that are surprisingly intimate, passionate and communicative.
Es setzt in der Tat sehr konsequent auf Wiederholungen, Verschiebungen, Unterbrechungen, erratische Akzentuierungen. Und dennoch generiert das exzellent besetzte Quartett des deutschen Saxofonisten einen atmosphärisch dichten und sehr suggestiven Flow, eine Art von ganz gegenwärtigem Sci-Fi-Jazz mit klanglich ausdifferenzierter Binnendynamik.
Ce nouvel album permet de se familiariser un peu plus avec l’univers chaotique, la musique dense, complexe et contrastée du saxophoniste allemand Philipp Gropper.
Everyone plays at a high level, including Gropper, whose leadership role is cemented through his socially focused compositions, which are stylistically wide-ranging; [...] and it’s all consistently excellent.
Interesting compositions and expressive personalities of individual musicians allow the quartet to develop their own original musical language. A voice worth hearing.
Hoe dan ook, Consequences is een prachtig jazzalbum: compositorisch complex, improvisatorisch inventief en ritmisch ijzersterk. De nadruk ligt op het groepsgeluid, waarbinnen de groepsleden hun individuele kwaliteiten kunnen tonen. Moderne jazz in optima forma.
Consequences présente un nouveau répertoire, des compositions très colorées et structurées en petits éclats, en coups de pinceaux, avec beaucoup de ruptures, de cassures mais aussi d’équilibre et de flottements. Le saxophone de Gropper a ce son légèrement pincé qui va du feulement au râle parfois, mais qui joue de la tension dans les mélodies. [...] Consequences contient une belle musique, libérée et affranchie, jouée par un groupe qui voit le monde à travers un kaléidoscope et Philipp Gropper n’en finit pas d’étonner.
Consequences is a primal exercise in barely-contained tension. Gropper and company could easily explode and blow their way through the 50-some-odd minutes of the album. But this is not a group that is explicitly outside. Unconventional and creative, yes, but on their own terms. Another brilliant release.
Das resultierende Klanggebräu ist von erheblicher Komplexität, zumal rhythmisch sehr variabel und vielschichtig, ebenso aber auch in den spannungsreichen Texturen. Risiko, jede Menge Energie, aber auch Intelligenz und Präzision [...].