CD Review: Rusconi - History, Sugar, Dream

Rusconi - History, Sugar, Dream
(Qilin Records. QILIN004. CD Review by Rob Mallows)

'Überjazz'. That’s how Swiss group Rusconi describe their sound. It implies music that goes beyond traditional jazz boundaries, unlimited by what’s gone before. One listen and it’s certainly clear: this is no ordinary album.

Rusconi are an unconventional trio: Stefan Rusconi - on piano, synth, vocals and “sound preparations and space echo”; Fabian Gister plays double bass, guitar and “distortions”; and Claudio Strüby uses drums, glockenspiel and “tape”. They describe their output as "modern creative music" and it seems apt: it’s music that is adventurous, panoramic and anarchic.

Opener Finally, with its grunge-y acoustic guitar and whiny vocals, is an uncomfortable start with no obvious jazz feel. Second track Meditation introduces a siren-like guitar theme built up with drum elements and simple piano chords, but still circles around the rock sound, evident in Gister’s sandpaper-rough guitar. Ankor, with lovely bass work, moves the album towards a jazzier feel before Twisted spins it back into pop territory.

Yogya Trip - opening with plucked piano strings, saw-like cymbal sounds and an unsettling piano theme - hints at more modern jazz ideas but draws heavily on sixties experimental classical music and rock, as does Change, Pt 1 with its layered vocals. Up to this point, it’s rather heavy going, but picks up with jaunty The Return of the Corkies, a snappy track driven by Gister’s double bass and Rusconi’s piano. The rest of the album continues in this vein and offers some uniquely strange sounds.

Don’t expect instant gratification with this music. But if you’re up for a challenge, do consider History, Sugar, Dream. It's an album that definitely needs time to work its magic, but rewards the effort in the end.

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