Featuring: Christian Strssle, Violin, Monster-viola; Christoph Grab, Saxophones; Mathias Gloor, Piano, Synthesizer; Dominik Burger, Drums, Vibraphone
Picture a world of rampant hysteria, unbridled joy, explosive anger, gorgeous beauty, and unbelieveable violence, and you take a frantic turn into the magical realm of the animated cartoon. It is in this world that Nadelöhr lives, where they are waiting to slice, dice, pulverize, dissolve, and noisily devour you after a frenzied musical chase that leaves you finally and fatally trapped. Rich with colors and contours, drama and suspense, Nadelöhr creates huge spaces right next to claustrophobia, turbulent outbursts right before soothing whispers, and effervescent humor in the face of terrific horror.
As the title would indicate, the songs are mostly soundtracks to American and European cartoon episodes, where the characters effortlessly break physical, biological, and societal rules in the most fantastic and impossible ways. But without the benefit of the pictures, the effectiveness of the album lies in the psychological, where Nadelöhr toy with your emotions by stopping a sweet and lilting theme on a dime and pitching you forward into a frenetic run from a salivating predator set on tearing you apart. There are solo piano clusters, long, sweet notes on the viola, sudden sax bursts, and even recorded voices chopping up one idea and beginning another, only to be overrun by a vibraphone or a drumbeat soon after.
However, amidst the trickling, shooting, screeching, moping, and general mania of the album, is there any music to actually listen to? Although the album is brimming with expression and ingenuity, there are no themes to follow for more than a few seconds, which can truly annoy the listener. There are few steady beats, all the tracks are atonal, and there's almost no time scheme at all. For all the accuracies of Merry Melodies in its coloring of the cartoon landscape, it can be an alienating listening experience for the Jazz fan.
By Joshua Kline
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Copyright Jazz Now, July 2002 issue, all rights reserved