Title: Pied Piper (Trumpet Edition)
Released: March 2013
Artist Country: Germany
Catalog Number: Kreislauf 137
License: CC BY-NC-ND
Were you to just start listening to Pied Piper out of the blue you would likely have a range of immediate reactions to the first track from “what the heck is this?” to “just some more drone stuff, yawn” to “whoa, I wasn’t expecting this!” Why such a diverse range of reactions? I mostly expect it would be due to the listeners backgrounds in different styles of music. If you are mostly into current pop and EDM types of styles you’ll probably have the first reaction. If you are into a bit more electronic music, you probably won’t find the drone all that impressive, so you’d have the second reaction. However, if you are into jazz, and have some knowledge of jazz, and particularly jazz trumpet style from Miles Davis to today, you’ll likely have the last reaction.
The opening tack seems to be the most experimental, and immediate challenge of this whole recording: an electronic drone atmosphere is laid out, with minimal percussive elements, under which a Miles Davis inspired trumpet line is almost swallowed. The immediate effect is to say to the listener: here’s a challenge. But, it isn’t a matter of the artist just doing something to challenge the listener. It’s really an audio-painting of an image: a Space Rhapsody, and it is a strong opening track that keeps the listener alert.
And, that’s where this album both succeeds and fails. The opening track is followed by a couple of nice smooth-jazz style pieces that put you back on familiar territory for jazz trumpet work (and, admittedly, they are tons better than any Kenny G. style smooth jazz recording). But, this artist cannot be contained in a simple mold, and so the tracks start wandering into other territory: trip-hop, German electro-pop, funk, even some dance styles, before returning to jazz.
Most of it works. Most of it works extremely well. Except when it doesn’t on, for example, I Won’t Stop The Funk, a track that would appear to be a funk track but doesn’t sound it. Or, if it is really a funk track, it’s been re-worked in such a way as to make it indecipherable. I cannot find a frame of reference for. But, even that mis-fire is made up for by the wonderful Sound of MA has much more of the funk groove, and pays off with an experimental trumpet track that adds another dimension.
So, in this case following the piper is an interesting exercise in recognizing a changing landscape. Parts of the path are familiar and comfortable, some are familiar but somewhat new, while a little is completely unfamiliar. It’s always fun to get lost in a new area, go exploring, and eventually find your way home. And that’s what Noston has done here, taken us on a journey through familiar and un-familiar lands, and brought us home again. Now it’s your turn to follow the pied piper…