Alien Ensemble 2
Alien Ensemble present their second album, Alien Ensemble 2. Micha Acher, who plays tuba in the band Millipede and is also a member of The Notwist, formed Alien Ensemble in 2010 as a passion project. He wanted to have a personal outlet that allowed him to focus on his two greatest passions: playing trumpet and coming up with intricate, instrumental arrangements. The Ensemble's self-titled debut album was released via Alien Transistor (N 040CD/LP, 2014), the label Micha's been running with his brother Markus since 2003. Arriving in a similar vein as its predecessor, everything from jazz to kraut, from ambient to soundtrack-type music, from new music to pop is present. Playing more and more shows has, over time, turned "this project into a proper band" as Acher explains: "At this point, each of us has really found his place in the dynamic of the group - also in terms of how we write and compose." A case in point being the new track "Skeleton Dance" which was written by Andi Haberl, drummer of The Notwist. The track has a beat that can only be described as stoical, a banjo that settles on one chord and stays there all the way till the end, topped off by amazing melodies that shape shift and interlock just beautifully. "Gedanken" written by trombone player Matthias Goetz, who also plays in the band Millipede, is the Ensemble's definition of pop: a slow-moving lower end, contributed by Haberl (drums) and Matthias Pichler (bass), that has an almost hip-hop feel to it. Given the certain cool, seasoned and nonchalant attitude, there's nothing cold or dispassionate about these recordings. Instead, the new material's emotional depth is already present in album opener "Arc Trilogy". What starts out as an almost classic "cool jazz" song, suddenly disintegrates and makes way for the only solo part on 2: Double bass player Matthias Pichler uses a bow and takes it into unexpected new music territory. The Notwist's Karl-Ivar Refseth (vibraphone) manages to steer the track towards a more ambient-sounding sphere. The shape-shifting harmonies and arrangements presented by Alien Ensemble on this album are never predictable. The Ensemble keeps breaking new ground, creating one set of colorful hues after the next. It's an album that's stunningly compact and coherent. Says Micha Acher: "Well, we recorded it in just one day. Things were really relaxed and easy."