LE REX — Escape of the Fire Ants (review)

LE REX — Escape of the Fire Ants album cover Album · 2019 · Eclectic Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
kev rowland
It is safe to say there are few bands quite like Le Rex. While there are many who are challenging existing musical forms there can be few who can be said to be attacking quite like this. For a start, I can’t think of another band who have a line-up quite like this, as we have alto saxophonist Benedikt Reising, tenor saxophonist Marc Stucki, trombonist Andreas Tschopp, tuba player Marc Unternährer and drummer Rico Baumann. Yes, you read that correctly, four horns and a drummer, no guitar, bass or piano in sight, and of course no room whatsoever for a singer. Although arguably it can be said that the tuba does sometimes play the role of a bass as it anchors the bottom end of the sound, it is far more common for Unternährer to be a key part of the melody and there are times when he takes on the lead role.

Although jazz is the starting point, on the way to the end Le Rex are actually incredibly progressive in their outlook as they bring their eclectic bent into songs which are always fascinating and interesting, moving in directions one can rarely fathom: there is no way to predict what is going to happen next. But these are all songs as opposed to improvisations, and originally were scored, although the band rehearsed them so they could play them live in the studio without reference. When I play this, I have discovered that sometimes my ear is following one particular musician through the threads, at others I am jumping between them, and others when I open my mind and try to take it all in at once. Interwoven, complex and complicated, one would imagine that this might be a hard album to listen to, but nothing could be further from the truth as it is such a delight from beginning to end. I can imagine fans of the likes of Art Zoyd getting as much from this as those who would consider themselves to be more traditional jazz lovers as opposed to prog. Yet another great release from Cuneiform Records, so glad they are back on the scene.
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