JP Schlegelmilch / Jonathan Golberger / Jim Black - Visitors

Label: Skirl Records, 2018

Personnel - JP Schlegelmilch: keyboards; Jonathan Goldberger: guitars; Jim Black: drums.

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This cohesive new organ trio co-led by Brooklyn-based keyboardist JP Schlegelmilch, guitarist Jonathan Goldberger, and drummer Jim Black, ventures down creative paths of indie rock with a casual, serrated jazzy edge in its statements. Their album, Visitors, is staggeringly crafted with a rugged, psychedelic rock technique and assertive textural developments, featuring eight tracks whose instrumental depth is consummated by the magical interplay among the trio members.

Corvus” is a prog-rock archetypal that perhaps better illustrates this. Electronic manipulations precede the excavation of a 7/4 groove exalted by sturdy rock moves and fleshed out by an incandescent guitar solo that comprehends flickering sound waves, bluesy riffs, arpeggiated sequences, and jazzy chords. After a calmer passage, the groove shifts to six, seducing Schlegelmilch and Goldberger to embark on a cross-conversational dialogue while Black holds to a funky percussive flux.

Showcasing brighter tones and intense emotions, “Ether Sun” is a Pink Floyd-esque song elegantly arranged with soaring keyboard sounds, smooth bass coordination, and firmly fixed rhythm.

Stressing idiomatic rock textures, “Lake Oblivion” is divided into two distinct yet complementary parts. The first one carries a restless ambiguity in its classic hard-rock charisma, while the second, advancing at a 5/4 tempo, equips the same package with popish acoustic instrumentation and a distorted electric fizz.

The title track comes hooked in a triple meter. The versatile drummer moves with sheer boldness, supporting the use of methodical synth maneuvers for ambient and noisy guitar strokes for impact.

If “Chiseler” erupts with tactile dissonances and power chords in a clear inclination toward prog-rock, then “Terminal Waves” has its climatic peak with Goldberger’s cryptic metal-inflected solo over an exquisite textural work that becomes slightly tumultuous until mitigated by atmospheric organ layers and drones.

Being a deluxe product of like-minded cohorts, Visitors is also striking and rewarding, displaying enough personality and range to keep us thrilled.

Grade  A-

Grade A-

Favorite Tracks:

03 - Ether Sun ► 04 - Corvus ► 06 - Lake Oblivion II


Meyer/Slavin/Meyer/Black - Other Animal

Label: Traumton Records

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

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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