DER FINGER - Le Cinque Stagioni

Der Finger - Le Cinque Stagioni

5 songs
76:02 minutes
***** ***
Toten Schwan

Bandpage

Usually consisting of Anton Efimov on bass guitar and Evgenia Sivkova on saxophone and drums, Der Finger is a Russian avant free jazz project that occasionally adds other members to its loose line-up. According to their Bandcamp page, since their inception in the early years of the current decade, Le Cinque Stagioni is already their twenty-third release, and the number twenty-three should have bells ring in the head of every self-respecting conspiracy nut with a distinguished taste. Itís the special number that the late Robert Anton Wilson had recurring in his madcap Illuminatus trilogy, and therefore Le Cinque Stagioni consists of five songs named after the seventy-three days long seasons that appeared in that classic novel.

On this album, Der Finger are joined on bass clarinet, saxophone and bass domra, the latter being a Russian folk string instrument, by Edward Sivkov, renowned Russian jazz musician and also the father of Evgenia Sivkova. Itís his contributions that make this seventy-six-minute-long album a more jazz sounding album than their previous material. Their jazz is though less inspired by the American kind but rather by the more decadent Germanic experimental jazz.

Those not so familiar with the different nuances of that genre might see this more like a wedding between sombre free jazz and noisy drone music, giving it a certain dark jazz atmosphere. The opener Verwirrung for instance is at twenty minutes the albumís tour de force, showing all of the bandís different trademarks: melancholy waves of saxophone and bass clarinet melodies that feel like wafted in by the wind, and percussion sent through effects, making them rumble threateningly as a fitful backdrop. The following three songs, Zweitracht, Unordnung and Beamtenherrschaft, are also way over ten minutes long and offer more of that strange yet working blend of gloomy avant free jazz with post-industrial noise drones. Only the concluding Realpolitik is at eight minutes comparatively shorter and comes without wind instruments, instead opting for the rumbling bass domra.

I really like the juxtaposition of Der Fingerís more experimental music with Sivkovís melodic touches, and the Illuminatus theme is also quite pleasant. Even though I have read the trilogy already twice, this makes me want to read it again soon. Of course Robert Anton Wilson was a superbly intelligent man, and his conspiracy themes actually ended up making fun of your typical conspiracy nut. If he were alive today to see how dumb so many people have become, he would cry bitter tears. But he might enjoy this lovely tribute to his greatest work. As I do too. Fans of experimental drone music and free jazz should be delighted. Itís one of Der Fingerís few albums released on a label, where you can either buy the CD or download the digital files for free. If thatís not fan-friendly, what is?

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