Ektroverde - "Integral" (Snowdonia/Mizmaze 2000, CD)
From Aural Innovations #12 (September 2000)
Ektroverde returns with another set of difficult to describe, impossible to label, jazz electronica mindfuck music. Longtime AI readers will recall that Ektroverde is related by common members to Circle, another band from Finland that we've written about and raved about several times in the past.
The album starts on a light note with "Harvest", which opens with a melodic acoustic prog rock feel, like early Anthony Phillips. But it quickly settles into a drugged, lounge jazzy motif with a melodic groove. "Tractors" is a jazzy piano and horn piece. It's very melodic yet also has an avant-jazz feel with it's dissonant lines and competing melodies. Kind of like Soft Machine with a touch of Coltrane. The tune develops very little in it's 10 minute length yet I must have got lost in it because when it was over I was completely unaware that much time had gone by.
"Orange" and "Pendant" both sound like something Circle would do. "Orange" has that trademark Circle repeating pattern. But the synth dances through a playful catchy melody line while the guitars get increasingly harsh, cranking out industrial chainsaw chords, as an assortment of spacey mania is occurring in the background. "Pendant" has the repeating motif, but is accompanied by a mechanical, yet spacey, percussion and synth construction. I like the way the music grabbed me with it's basic pattern that develops in a slow but deceptively complex manner.
"Therefore" is a cool freaky electronica tune. Almost danceable. But it's got a catchy synth melody and some very cool organ and synth explorations in the background. A great combo of mainstream "song" and freeform jamming. "Odd Trip" is a bit different being an atmospheric industrial space electronica tune. It's hard to describe this. On the one hand it can be compared to early 70's explorers like Ash Ra Tempel and maybe Neu!, but this is fairly abstract experimental electronica that over the course of it's 16 minutes meanders through a dark and somewhat minimal journey. The last couple minutes don't change but introduce sax to the mix along with a variety of found sounds that make for quite a wild ride. "Tanzania" is a similar trip, but is far more subtle and dominated by more found sounds and odd voicings.
In summary, I'd say this is my favorite Ektroverde release to date, next to the Futuro soundtrack, and an excellent place to start if you're unfamiliar with the band. Fans of avant garde spacerock, jazz, and those yearning for something a bit different will very likely dig the sounds on this disc. But, like Circle, there is a great deal of variety to be explored across multiple releases, all of which ranges from very interesting to most exciting.
Click here to visit the very informative web page covering Ektroverde.
Integral is distributed my Snowdonia. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact via snail mail at Snowdonia c/o Cinzia La Fauci; Via Cherubini 84, 98124; Messina; Italy
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz