Meyer/Slavin/Meyer/Black - Other Animal

Label: Traumton Records

Personnel - Peter Meyer: guitar; Wanja Slavin: saxophone, synth, flute; Bernhard Meyer: bass; Jim Black: drums.


Other Animal is a quartet led by the German brothers Peter and Bernhard Meyer, guitarist and bassist, respectively, who take all the credit for the twelve compositions on the band's debut album. They are joined by the Berlin-based saxophonist Wanja Slavin and the American drummer Jim Black, a pivotal figure in the New York jazz scene.

The animated beat that introduces “Drown Dreams”, an oblique, dreamy, chamber pop song, doesn’t dissemble some solemnity attached to its melody and harmonic conduction. There are a few grey clouds encircling it, but shining sunrays make the liberation possible. Exclusively on this tune, Slavin plays synth and flutes.

The sluggish drum chops of “Name of Cold Country”, sparse yet well coordinated with the bass lines, go along with the melodious saxophone and soaring electronic effects. The lightness of this architecture of sound gains further depth with Peter’s beautiful harmonics and warmly distorted chords. Yes, it may feel ponderous and wintry, but comes stuffed with emotion. 

Mr. Manga” and “Qubits” share vibrant pulses characteristic of the alternative rock genre. The former shifts tempo with resilience and autonomy, unraveling into interesting experimental passages, while the latter adopts a cool danceable posture reinforced with syncopation and the presence of a shaker. The opposite scenario is set up on “Downbear” whose dark and gloomy textures depicted by distorted guitar would give a great doom-metal piece. These sonic waves impel Black to adventure himself a little bit more by the end.

Obeying intricate time signatures and packed with clear-cut unisons, “Nongeniality” showcases strong melodic ideas turned into ostinatos. They keep echoing all through Slavin’s eloquent, cliché-free improvisation.
The somber “E Dance” concentrates forthright bass plucks, flickering guitar cries, and an edgy drumming that toggles between adaptably human and metrically robotic. A unified sonic cloud grows simultaneously spacious, intense, and haunting.

Slightly jazzier, “Spectral” is a ruminative song whose sound propagations lead us to atmospheric realms borrowed from ambient electronica and neo-glam. With bass and drums anchored in a polyrhythmic web, both guitar and sax comfortably seek freedom to roam.

Sometimes thinly polished, sometimes strenuous and unyielding, Other Animal creates interesting and variegated soundscapes dipped in the independent rock genre.

       Grade  B+

       Grade B+

Favorite Tracks:
01 - Drown Dreams ► 02 - Name of Cold Country ► 06 - Nongeniality