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12twelve

L'Univers

(Acuarela; US: 18 Apr 2006; UK: 3 Apr 2006)

So this is what Steve Albini is up to these days—recrding ambitious, progressive, yet accessible bands like this. On its 4th album, the quartet uses bass, drums, guitar, keys, and sax to create what it calls “experimental rock”. But let’s not be coy. L’Univers is jazz. A bit off-center, sure, but there are enough thumping basslines and blaring saxes that hard bop comes as much to mind as “post rock”. 12twelve create funky, loose-limbed instrumental pieces that are simply a pleasure to listen to, not least because the playing is so crisp and sharp. The softer, more moody pieces do imploy dissonance and keyboards that recall ‘70s Krautrock, but most of all the effect is reminiscent of the wonderfully eclectic early work of Red Snapper. On L’Univers, 12twelve offer proof that organic jazz can still take new strides. That they’re from Barcelona, Spain only makes them that much cooler.

Rating:

John Bergstrom has been writing various reviews and features for PopMatters since 2004. He has been a music fanatic at least since he and a couple friends put together The Rock Group Dictionary in third grade (although he now admits that giving Pat Benatar the title of "first good female rocker" was probably a mistake). He has done freelance writing for Trouser Pressonline, Milwaukee's Shepherd Express, and the late Milk magazine and website. He currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin with his wife and two kids, both of whom are very good dancers.


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