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Plays Just Notes by Roger Tubesound Ensemble

The Roger Tubesound Ensemble's debut album "Pentatonic Surprise" (1997, RI-046)was one of the first pseudonyms with which Atom Heart (or AtomTM as he callshimself nowadays) thoroughly started toying with jazz grooves. It was recordedaround the same time as the first Señor Coconut album (his latin excursion "GranBaile Con..." equally dates from 1997, RI-044) and was conceived well beforeAtom's first brilliant collaboration with Burnt Friedman as Flanger. (They'veproduced three albums together by now, each of them an impressive 'excursion indigital jazz'.) "Pentatonic Surprise" was indeed a future of jazz and a futureof electronic music combined, and a lot more so than any of the music on thoseoptimistically titled "Future Of Jazz" compilations of rather simplistic dancemusic.

"Maybe what we need is to tell people that this is here because somehow in thisplasticised world they have the automatic reflex that if something is labeledone way then that is all there is in it and we are always finding out to oursurprise that there is more to Blake or more to Ginsberg or more to Stravinskythan whatever it was we thought was there" writes Lazlo Curas in his sleevenotes...

And so it goes for Uwe Schmidt. I'll not try to describe the music on "PlaysJust Notes" because words would soon fail me, but compared to the 1997 album, itis a lot more sophisticated, and a lot more complex. The sampling and theediting are more impressive, as Atom TM "remastered his music from the originalharddisks using Monk TM and Ra TM plugins" (which is funnyspeak for samplingthose two artists) and also because he's worked on those three Flanger albums inthe meantime, obviously. However brilliant, "Pentatonic Surprise" still soundedlike an electronic emulation most of the time, whereas "Plays Just Notes" oftensounds like it was actually played by a jazz band. One of the things which givesthe setup away, though, is the rapid succession of styles: from a forties styleit shifts to sixties jazz and then to more fusionesque meanderings, and so on.And still the resulting music oozes jazz from every pore. Another thing whichgives it away, is Atom Heart's for a breakdown or any other succession ofglitches. For instance, "Music (for the library of God)" is seriously cut up ina way that cannot be anything else but digital. Yet because of that, to me, itis totally in line with what Thelonious Monk did, just like other passages arepart of Ornette Coleman's heritage, or...

"So be it with the music we have called jazz and which we never knew what it wasbecause it was so many different things to so many different people" (LazloCuras once again finds that perfect tone with which to thread that fine linebetween pastiche - parodying all too serious liner notes - and truthfulobservations in a Hermann Broch stylee). "Plays Just Notes" is at times zany,and at times mindblowing; it's always fascinating. Listen to the highlyrecommended notes which Roger plays, and you'll soon enough 'dig'.

A previous version of this review was first published by Patrick Vandenberghe in[uzine 02.09] on 2002-04-10, cf.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Roger Tubesound Ensemble
  • CD Title: Plays Just Notes
  • Genre: Fusion
  • Year Released: 2002
  • Record Label: Rather Interesting
  • Musicians: The Roger Tubesound Ensemble is Uwe Schmidt aka AtomTM aka Atom Heart aka Señor Coconut aka Erik Satin aka los Samplers aka Midisound aka LB aka BDP aka the Disk Orchestra aka ... (the list is sheer endless - check his site).'
  • Rating: Four Stars
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