A seven-piece band from Germany mistakes influence for style.
Trumpeter Micha Acher's septet Alien Ensemble love to boast about their influences. They drop genre labels like pop, kraut, ambient, jazz, and the frustratingly vague "new music" to describe their sound, yet their sophomore release Alien Ensemble 2 remains too easy a listen. "We absolutely wanted to steer clear of classic jazz elements," explained Acher. "For example, you'll hardly hear any solo parts on this (album)."
While avoiding tradition is all well and good, one can't help but think that Alien Ensemble 2 could have enjoyed some much-needed variation if someone were allowed to cut loose and solo once in a while. As they stand, these eight tracks are very mannered and therefore become routine after the third listen. Songs like "Skeleton Dance" and "Gedanken" aren't songs so much as decent ideas with pretty arrangements. With a name like Alien Ensemble, they really ought to give their songs room to truly take flight.