The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble – S/T – CD/LP 2011

The Kilimanjaro Dark Jazz Ensemble - S/T - CD/LP 2011The self-titled 2006 debut album from The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble gets a well-deserved re-release from the ever-wonderful Denovali Records, including a vinyl pressing this time – good news for all of you vinyl fetishists out there!

Fusing cinematic ambitions with big beats, electronics and low-key jazzy ambience The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, or TKDE for the purposes of brevity, are a beast of several heads. With one foot planted firmly in the trip-hop camp, the other foot tends to go a-wandering, seeking out goodies to bring to the table and throw into the melting stew-pot of sound created by the Ensemble with the aim always being ‘a good mix between atmosphere and technique’, according to their press-release. An eminently sensible policy, if you ask me.

First track ‘The Nothing Changes’ brings together the disparate strands of a distortion-stripped version of the creeping, spidery guitar riff from Holocaust’s ‘The Small Hours’, as covered by Metallica, elegiac strings, a distantly muted trombone and a Lynchian jazzy ambience somewhat akin to atmospheres conjured up by the much-missed alchymists of sound, Coil in their latter days – all brooding double-bass, brushed drums and a generally unsettling feel.

The trip-hop feel first rears its head on ‘Pearls For Swine’, based as it is around a subtly phased splashy drum-loop and a deep bass synth pattern. Also springing to mind here is Ulver’s masterpiece ‘The Marriage of Heaven And Hell’, which is certainly NO bad thing! TKDE manage to throw a rather nasty spanner into the works on this track by dropping a near white-out of blistering screech into the track for a few measures toward the final quarter of its length. Believe me, you do NOT want to experience those white-hot needle-like sounds through headphones, brief as they are. OUCH.

‘Adaptation of The Koto Song’ rides along another bangin’ beat, all booming bass, shuffling hi-hats and subtly applied granular distortion, and an almost Nino Rota-like delicate guitar line. Great big squelchy analogue beats drop in at one point and everything goes batshit crazy for a minute before we flip back to that delicate guitar and the big-beat style rhythm again.

Elsewhere there is the subtly low-key ambient jazzy shuffle of the piano-led ‘Lobby’, the vaguely Radiohead/Yeasayer ‘Parallel Corners’, and the darkly moody ‘Rivers Of Congo’. The jazz is strong in this one. David Lynch and Twin Peaks are all over ‘Solomons Curse’, a mournful li’l smoky jazz number awash with slow violins and prominent bass, and ‘Amygdhala’, a threateningly creepy mood-piece that sounds so ominous you’re loathe to listen to it with your back to the door….just in case. ‘Guernican Perspectives’ is a bit of a non-event, feeling like more of the outro to a longer piece than a track as of itself.

Rounding off the record are ‘Vegas’ and ‘March Of The Swine’, both having much of the ‘urban cinematic’ feel of Ulver’s ‘Perdition City’ album, with ‘Vegas’ in particular having a highly effective latter part in which the entire TKDE kicks in at once, sounding enormous, and ‘March of The Swine’ having a somewhat industrial feel to its mechanised beats with a very long, quiet tail-off that exists right on the very edge of hearing.

Moody and magnificent, TKDE are perfect late-night/small hours listening for the more discerning listener and admirers of Ulver, Coil and even Portishead are sure to find something to enjoy herein. Let the music play and accompany the film that runs across your mind’s eye, that IS what music such as this was made for after all…

Label: Denovali Records

Scribed by: Paul Robertson