AKKU Quintet – Depart

AKKU Quintet – Depart

AKKU Quintet seem to be part of a modern Swiss tradition of cyclical minimalist music, where the beginning is the end is the beginning. Or if you will, the departure of one theme transposes the arrival of another. Led by drummer Manuel Pasquinelli, who also occupies the drum stool for compatriots Sonar, they create perfect circles of composition, but unlike their more austere, yet no less fabulous countrymen, do so within a warmer jazz fusion setting.

Manuel directs proceedings with a light yet precise touch on this, his band’s fourth album, released on Trey Gunn’s 7D Media label. His gentle but firm rhythmic directions drive the music forward, ever forward. Opening track Largo is insistent and mysterious, the entry of a sax motif four and a half minutes in heralding tiny lapping waves that gradually see the craft back on its way. Quite the meditative experience, and this thoughtfulness is apparent throughout. Largo reveals itself across its near quarter hour length, a journey that holds the listener’s attention as it never attempts to get over-complicated, and neither does it get lost, the route is well documented. The longest track on the album, it leaves one fully absorbed into the AKKU experience.

Mathematical motifs, familiar to anyone who has listened to monumental minimalists Sonar, appear throughout the album, but it never takes long before this particular combination of musicians stamp their own identity on the music. On Made In China, the delicate embellishments of the percussion and Andi Schnellmann’s (also of heavy noiseniks Schnellertollermeier) alternately thunderous and deft bass playing, plus the sax, and some well groovy angular guitar playing from Markus Ischer, who dominates the piece, take the tune to an entirely different place to where Sonar might have led it.

The air of mystery, a recurrent theme, returns in the title track, together with mild trepidation and no little anticipation, something you may all experience before a journey, hang over the long introduction to Depart. Some fine sax wailing over a slowly rising beat sees the tune strain at the leash to get underway, and soon it appears that we are moving without having noticed. I think I will play this next time I am off on a trip on Eurostar.

At the risk of falling into the dreaded and deathly dull “track by track” trap, I will say not a word about album closer Cyan. Oh, and I didn’t mention Breeze either, did I? Phew… You will just have to find out for yourself.

There is a spaciousness in these zeros and ones that AKKU Quintet allows to speak for itself. There is no unnecessary noodling to fill the gaps, every note has its place. For all that, the music on Depart is highly engaging. The album is a clever and entrancing listen that bears repeated plays.

01. Largo (14:35)
02. Made In China (7:16)
03. Breeze (3:44)
04. Depart (10:52)
05. Cyan (7:07)

Total Time – 43:33

Manuel Pasquinelli – Drums
Michael Gilsenan – Saxophone
Maja Nydegger – Keyboards
Markus Ischer – Guitar
Andi Schnellmann – Bass

Record Label: 7D Media
Catalogue#: 7D1911
Country of Origin: Switzerland
Date of Release: 17th May 2019

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