The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble

The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble

Written by: DR on 07/06/2011 23:05:19

With their second album "From The Stairwell" being released the following month, it seems as though the reason for The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble self-titled debut being re-released, as well as offering it on vinyl this time around, is to try and generate a little more buzz about this group in the lead up to the release of their third album.

Originally formed in 2000, duo Jason Köhnen and Gideon Kier, both graduates of the Utrecht School of Arts, started TKDE as a means to express their affection for reinterpreting classic films by F.W. Murnau and Fritz Lang. Murnau was a German director considered to be highly influential during the silent era, while Austrian-American Lang is the "Master of Darkness"; both were involved in the first world war. Throw those influences in with a name like "Darkjazz", and you should begin to understand what it is they're trying to achieve.

Regular readers may remember recently reviewed The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation, who have a similar name. That is because, as I said, these two projects share some of the same members, and hence have a similar sound. By 2004 UK trombonist Hilary Jeffery and Swiss cellist Nina Hitz had joined TKDE, which allows them to create deeper atmospheres by adding more instruments and therefore textures. Dark jazz is pretty much how I'd define their sound; the vocal-less compositions are intended to create a mood because they are practically intended as a soundtrack for silent films. TKDE marry the organic and the digital, combining more traditional instruments such the cello and violin with more 'modern' electronic beats, to create songs that begin fairly classically, until they become deftly mutated to symbolise a change in climate within the scene being represented.

Arguably the most impressive factor of this album is the production. This is an album that relies heavily on each instrument having their own voice and thought-process yet at the same time contributing to the overall painting that is being created, and because the production on each instrument is flawless, if you own a good pair of headphones the layers will simply unfold in your ears with each listen. "Lobby" is one of the finest examples of this; evolving from the ringing of a cello eased in and then eased out to incorporate garbled electronic beats. As the track becomes tenser and tenser, a breaking point is reached in the form of a static wall of horrific noise that will send shivers down your spine.

At a little over an hour long, this album may be a little too lengthy to keep it out of the 'great' scores, particularly because the tail end of the album is much less engrossing. "Guernican Perspectives" feels less tight and not as focused compared to the beginning of the album, while closer "March Of The Swine" is simply too long at twenty minutes.

That said, "The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble" is an intriguing marriage of the past and the present, the organic and digital, unlike anything I've heard. It has its moments of undoubted brilliance, and although it wouldn't go down as a classic (in my book), this album sets the foundation for them to go and create a genuinely immersive and wonderful listening experience on future albums.

Download: Lobby
For The Fans of: The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation, Bohren & der Club of Gore,
Listen: Myspace

Release Date 18.02.2011
Denovali Records

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