- Apollo Records
Where some listeners might hear ambient or downtempo, I hear jazz that's been fractured and reassembled into something new and different that nonetheless feels comforting and familiar. What others might describe as background music, plays to me like the audio equivalent of a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor—assuming drugs had a sound (and if you take enough of them, they probably do). In the press notes, Heider explains, "Blues, jazz, dub, and all those roots were the spark, but we used them more as a basis—an original vibe from which we could find our own handwriting."
I've spent the past week listening to as much new music as possible—it's been a hectic release month—and most of it actively irritated me, but the minute 4's aqueous opener, "Der Kran," issued from my speakers, I could feel that irritation dissipating. It's as much to do with the arrangements as with the instrumentation provided by an expertly selected set of guest musicians: Frank Zeidler (guitar), Stefan Pötzsch (violin, viola, mbira), Markus Stockhausen (flugelhorn), Frank Freitag (duduk), and Ricardo Villalobos collaborator Max Loderbauer (synths).
On most tracks, Stockhausen's flugelhorn provides the center around which everything else revolves. I can also hear the tinkling of chimes, the ripples of a stream, the whisper of a breeze, the clicking of heels, and the creaking of a door (the only sample that doesn't work: the brief dance-music vocal on "Phonetrik").
If I had to compare Boozoo Bajou to another act, I'd cite Austrian guitarist Fennesz or Montreal electronic wizard Tim Hecker, though I'm not sure why Heider and Seyberth aren't as well known (possibly because they've changed up their style a few times over the years). 4 is a captivating record with just a hint of menace floating around the edges, especially on "S.A.E.," which evokes a late-night ramble through curiously empty streets—like a scene from The Last Man on Earth. It's a little lonely, a little sad, but strangely exhilarating, too.