Michael Janisch: Paradigm Shift

review janisch x1 cong

As we slotted this into the Review Corner CD player we wondered: “Will this CD change our lives?” It looked that kind of music.
The answer was no but it’s still a very powerful CD that a fortnight’s playing and a short review can’t do justice to.
Bad news first: the downside is that (at least according to the interweb) Janisch runs a record label, so presumably he’s deskbound and spends more time worrying about barcodes than beats to the bar. So, a bit like a cow in spring, when’s he let out with a bass guitar he runs amok and burns off lots of energy. At its core this is a hardbop album, but in spirit it’s prog rock, where the more routine sections are interspersed with sections of ridiculous virtuosity. There are just too many ideas knocking about all at once, though admittedly that is also part of its charm.
It’s recorded live, which makes the fearsome playing even more impressive; with jazz albums we often look at the players on the sleeves and wonder how someone with the same basic accessories as us — arms, hands, ears etc — makes something so technically complex, and this is like that but more so.
Side one is The Paradigm Shift suite, a number of complex sections over half an hour. Disc two is Mike’s Mosey, apparently inspired by a night time walk in London with guitarist Phil Robson, which sees the bass scampering around like a demented feral cat. As well as the usual jazz instrumentation, there’s electronic manipulation courtesy of Alex Bonney and a didgeridoo.
As we say, the downside is that it’s a bit all over the shop, as Mr Janisch goes mad with a bass guitar, but it’s an impressive album that throbs with dark energy and, the “criticism” of them being just too darn good aside, it’s a meaty and powerful body of work.

About jerobear

Weekly newspaper editor in Cheshire, England. I blog my editorials and the CDs I write about. I play drums, drink coffee, play music, meditate. I hate filling in forms.

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