By Taylor Williams, Nashville 21. 2. 2022
Grützi mitenand, es ist fast Zeit für Fasnacht! It’s true, unfortunately I won’t be back in Luzern anytime soon to tear it up downtown like the good ole’ days. Thankfully, there’s this wicked band I found from Zurich that will hold me over until I return.
If you’ve never been to Switzerland (CH), think about this for a moment. Consider growing up in a country with four national languages, surrounded by three cultural powerhouses, where space is limited and privacy is a premium. They pride themselves not just on their neutrality, but their efficiency and creativity as well. Unmatched natural beauty, infrastructure that runs like a clock (literally), and a beautiful blend of French, Italian, German and world culture. There’s very few places like it in the world, and the art is a reflection of that. I’ve been fortunate enough to spend about six months in CH – and it has made a lasting impression on me. If you don’t think a country can be as precise as it is flagrantly artistic, then you’ve never been to CH.
This band is based in Zurich and consists of four primary members – Kriz Flueler (trumpet, loops, effects), Julien Boss (keys), Jean-Pierre Schaller (bass) and Andy Brugger(drums). Not surprisingly, they are all seasoned session players in CH, and most of them are instructors. Their bio’s read just like any of the top session players from any major city around the world – A list players, great gigs, and session after session after session. For this track, “Wizard Wisdom,” they also added some spoken word from Julio Mwansa Nkowane, (aka ROOTWORDS), an artist “lyricist” from the US who has been working and performing in Switzerland and France since 2012. It comes off their recent release of the same name – here’s our review.
Track starts off with an ambient and delayed trumpet riff over top of bed of simple patches in a minor, and spoken word from ROOTWORDS. Tough to say where it could go from here, it’s very chill and reflective – lyrics are descriptive but open ended, a series of compelling images. Then, JP and Andy drop in on a groove in 7/4 that is pure pocket and groove. Beautiful playing from both of them. Love JP’s tone and Andy’s groove, and the mix is gorgeous. In the back, there’s a mix of loops and effects – I can’t tell if it’s Kriz or Julien, but it doesn’t matter – I love an odd tempo groove and that’s where my focus is, especially the accents on the 7th beat.
After that intro and initial groove, we get the head – the A section – where the trumpet riff comes back over top the groove. Great melodies don’t have to be complicated – this is a perfect example of that. It’s a nice phrase of intervals, and Kriz has some solid tone. The backgrounds add some gorgeous layers, but don’t get them confused with the bed that Julien is laying down. The B section switches to the relative major and is a bit more complicated, with a lovely lift and progression and it’s end to bring us back to the A section. I’d love to see the chart.
ROOTWORDS comes back in for another spoken word section, and it really fits in nicely. This time around it’s much longer – a full verse and stanza that lasts for the better part of minute. So far, they’ve hit on soul, r&b, jazz, and trip hop – and it absolutely works. Remember what I said above about Swiss precision? Case in point, right here. This damn track is absolutely surgical. They don’t take up too much space with their individual parts, and they leave plenty of room for composition to grow.
As the spoken word comes to a close, we get dueling trumpet solos and arpeggiated keyboard work that makes me think Pete Townsend smoked a bunch of weed, programmed an ARP2500 and secretly slipped the track to these guys. 😉 Absolutely love it – put your cans on for the full effect. With the end of this section, we go back to that B section again (the complicated chorus, I’ll call it) with a much more spirited performance. And I must say, whoever’s idea it was to lay down those tritone hits starting at 4:13 – bless you, that’s genius.
This takes us to an outro jam with a variation on the A section with more developed instrumentation, a series of pulsing hits that make you forget it’s all in seven, and an arpeggiator that fades out. Absolutely lovely track, fellas, so gut, so schön. It was written by JP and ROOTSWORD, produced by Kriz, and tracked at Klangfaktur and mastered by Dan Suter.
Make sure you scroll down to catch their socials and check out their other tracks. “Beromünster” comes at you like Tower of Power with Dave Weckl, then goes acid trip – love it. Funny, I never thought of the Lucerne area that way. “Lazy Day” might be my favorite – love the chord progression and groove. Great work Wolkenpark, I hope to see this live someday!