Time Shift Accident; what does that band name say to you? Perhaps it suggests a seventies-obsessed sci-fi band with a Hawkwind fixation bent on recording a concept album about Einstein’s theory of relativity and the potential for time travel mis-haps? Or perhaps setting Back to the Future to music? Well, whatever it conjures up in your mind, I rather doubt it stacks up with reality, because believe it or not, Time Shift Accident are a jazz rock fusion band from Nürnberg who are immensely talented musicians, and there’s no Robbie the robot in sight.
Chronosthesia (!) is their debut album, although they’ve been around since 2013, evolving through line up changes into the very accomplished unit of today. Their original material is all instrumental and touches on prog and metal, but is predominantly fusion with Latin flourishes. It’s all quite reminiscent of the sort of territory occupied by bands like Return to Forever or Brand X, but with their own twist. There are multiple keyboard textures on offer, from piano to synth, organ to electric piano, melodic guitar lines give way to crunchy riffs, all underpinned by precision bass playing and ebullient drums.
Opener Cold Case is typical, beginning with a busy piano motif before the melody lines are etched out on guitar over a toe-tapping rhythm, the whole exuding a comfortable jazzy feel interspersed with strident ensemble parts. It is insistent and memorable, each of the four players finding room to express themselves within the confines of six or so minutes, and it’s a great start.
Boonar Eclipse follows along in a similar format, but with more riffing guitar structure submitting to funky Latin sections with exquisite melodic lead guitar and deft piano improvised passages. Bassist Michael Schetter and drummer Paul Ettl have been the anchormen of the band since 2014, and their playing shows great empathy and understanding as they provide the rhythmic platform for the showier instruments. They play with obvious skill but in an unassuming and unobtrusive way, just as a great rhythm section should. This leaves guitarist Dave Mola and keyboardist Günther W. Schmuck free to dazzle with the majority of the soloing, but I’m happy to say that they refrain from showboating, and although this kind of music leaves itself open to the accusation of ’noodling’, they’ve kept things concise and to the point on this album.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t any longer pieces allowing further exploration of the possibilities open to this band of course; there are a couple of tracks running over the ten minute mark, but they use that time effectively. The first of these is Damascus Dance, something of a tour de force with a heavier approach and slightly more ominous feel to the main riff, and with Eastern flavoured guitar melodies befitting the subject matter. It is a real standout track, and shows what this collective is capable of creating. Despite its length, this song doesn’t contain any wasted moments, and it builds to an enthralling conclusion.
Borsuki is a more laid back and melodic song, with some wonderful jazz piano improvisation from Günther Schmuck, and very tasteful guitar textures from Dave Mola as the piece progresses. In fact Dave Mola is probably the most surprising band member, in that his playing with Time Shift Accident is a million miles away from his work with his other band, Effloresce. They are a prog metal band sounding perhaps a bit like early Opeth, and the transformation to jazzy guitar guru here is frankly surprising! On closing track The Hand of God, he pulls out some lyrical guitar not unlike Satriani at his more melodic, but as the piece progresses, the band turn up the heat, and start to cook. It works up to a breathless and fitting climax to the album, with some superb fills from Paul Ettl and bass lines from Michael Schetter. In fact the musicianship throughout is of the highest calibre, and composing duties shared across the band.
So, despite their slightly confusing name, Time Shift Accident have impressed me, and are a band most definitely worthy of checking out if you have any leanings towards melodic jazz rock. I’ve no idea on the likelihood of seeing them play live outside of Germany, but their style obviously lends itself to live performance, and I’ll be keeping an eye on them for sure whilst enjoying this release for some time to come.
01. Cold Case (6:40)
02. Boonar Eclipse (5:15)
03. Ignalina Forest (6:13)
04. Wish (4:57)
05. Damascus Dance (11:21)
06. Pompei (5:35)
07. Borsuki (7:21)
08. The Hand Of God (10:35)
Total Time – 57:57
Günter W Scmuck – Keyboards
Michael Schetter – Bass
Dave Mola – Guitars
Paul Ettl – Drums
Record Label: Generation Prog Records
Date Of Release: 27th September 2019