ARKTIS/AIR - En-Trance

Arktis/Air - En-Trance

7 songs
50:14 minutes
***** ***
Wire Globe / Zach


Austrian band Arktis/Air don’t reveal that much about themselves, neither on their official homepage, nor on their Facebook site. The sextet comes from the capital city Vienna, has released their self-titled debut in 2011, with En-Trance following at the end of 2013. So it’s not really a new album to review right now, but their music, which they label themselves as jazzcore, has enough originality to that I feel compelled to write some words about it.

Apart from the catchy Poskok which doesn’t even take up three minutes, the songs are rather expansive, ranging from six minutes to well over eleven, like the opener Airuin. The band consists of two guitarists, two keyboarders, a drummer and a saxophonist. You will notice the absence of bass guitar and vocals. The epic opener is a good summary of the band’s sound, combining John Zorn’s wilder side (Painkiller, Naked City) with King Crimson circa 1973-1974, and adding a healthy dose of sludge and post metal to make it all sound contemporary. The final four minutes of Airuin may be positioned somewhere between free jazz and white noise, but that’s also an important facet of this quasi-improvisational band.

Jazzcore per se is already a genre I usually rather like, but in the case of Arktis/Air, it should be mentioned that their skilful mix of Seventies prog, Nineties noise jazz and new millennium post metal make for a rather unique sound. The lack of bass guitar doesn’t really matter as the guitars more often than not play really deep notes, although they can as well pick crazily chromatic jazz solos.

En-Trance has a lot to offer, even though sometimes the bands’ freer excursion are maybe even a little too much for me, but I still felt highly entertained by Arktis/Air’s furious freakout jazz explosion. By neither being a metal band with jazz affinities not being a jazz band with heavy guitars, the Vienna based sextet has put itself right in the middle of those different styles, and will either fascinate you or scare you away. For me it was definitely the former!

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