JANKO NILOVIĆ — Rythmes Contemporains (aka Giant) (review)

JANKO NILOVIĆ — Rythmes Contemporains (aka Giant) album cover Album · 1974 · Jazz Related Soundtracks Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Wow, cinematic indeed. I'd been waiting to buy this album for a while and finally got a hold of it almost by accident, running into a friend who lent me their copy on the condition that I protect it well.

Safe to say I liked it enough that I've ordered my own.

Nilovic gathered 45 musicians for this monster session and its fruits are impressive - in fact, the term 'library music,' (when used in a derogatory sense) is unfair to Janko's 'Rythmes Contemporain.' Rather, the record is a seething set of exotica that stretches from lush pop to big band, fusion and beyond, as well any album that is part of the exotica genre should.

Horns and a funk-influenced rhythm section are supported by strings, flute, electric guitar, piano and a (wordless) choir among other instruments. They create, at times, a wonderful restlessness to much of the music, while at the same time, the pieces effortlessly incorporate harmony and melody, along with unexpected twists in mood or direction that kept me hitting the play button. In fact, it's probably the composition and arrangement that are the stars of 'Rythmes Contemporain' - not that I mean to fault the players or the sound quality, both of which are top notch.

With a funk undertone to many pieces, leaving the brass to either flesh things out or to solo, the album has a good share of driving beats and rave-party-like percussion, such as in opener 'Black on A White Ground.' Soon enough it eases into a more measured section that really brings a film score to mind, in the way that the melody parts work more like motifs rather than the head of a hard bop tune. (And take your pick as to which film - it could fit quite a many and do them all justice.)

Of the six songs (totaling under forty minutes) no piece overstays its welcome. 'Mouvements Aquatiles' is brief but beautiful and 'Underground Session' brings some menace in addition to its dueling sax and guitar solos, stretching out nicely. The multi-part opener and follow up 'Giant Locomotion' are also extended pieces but the highlight of the album, 'Xenos Cosmos' manages to go everywhere in half the time. And it's great to catch a trace of laughter early on in the track (Nilovic maybe?) as it sounds like the players are having a blast.

If you've any interest in the exotica genre or want something that brings jazz crashing into the world of film scores (though not in an equally satisfying Duke Ellington 'Anatomy of a Murder' way) then seek out 'Rythmes Contemporain' and see for yourself how enjoyable it can be. Even with the heady-rush of an album I've only had for a month, four stars.
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