Music

The Kandinsky Effect: Pax 6 (review)

Publicity photo via Bandcamp

The Kandinsky Effect have not made the best jazz album of the year, nor the best rock album of the year. Whatever it is, it's still one of the best albums of the year.

I was in college when I learned the story of how Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky didn't recognize one of his own works, even when he had just been working on it moments before. On this particular day, he was wrapping up work on a painting as it lay sideways on his easel. He then left his studio to go for a walk. Upon returning, he did not recognize the painting. Just by leaving the painting on its side, it was transformed beyond recognition, even within the eyes of its creator. It's a wonderful story, and I hope it's true (you just never know these days).


The Kandinsky Effect

Pax 6

(Ropeadope)

Release Date: 29 Sep 2017

Listening to the music of the modern jazz trio The Kandinsky Effect isn't quite like that. You probably have to travel far and wide in order to experience the strange euphoria the artist did on that day when he found his own work to be so foreign to him. But these guys certainly understand the idea behind taking familiar elements and casting them in new light. The Kandinsky Effect have been chugging along for about ten years now and Pax 6 is their fourth album, so it's safe to say that the jazz-meets-rock-meets-electronics formula is safe when it's in their hands.

Saxophonist Warren Walker and bassist Gael Petrina get to have all the fun with all of the effects pedals used to create Kandinsky Effect's mysterious and often times very moving backdrops. It is drummer Caleb Dolister that has to keep as these subgenres moving along as one unit all while making sure it still grooves and/or rocks. A majority of the pieces are composed rather than "jammed" into existence. Despite the potentially hard sell, all of these elements work. Not once does music of the Kandinsky Effect come off as pretentious or unnecessarily busy. There is not a single melody or a polyrhythmic pattern designed to go over the head of any listener. Pax 6 is just another excellent example of how far a certain musical hybrid can go when its creators aren't so concerned with showing loyalty to any one genre.

When you listen to the brisk tempo of "This One Is For You" followed by the spacey atmospherics of the title track, the last thing you'll be is bothered by their genre-hopping. That goes double for the funk rumblings that drive "Iron Lion" and the glassy-eyed synth pads making a bed for "Glass Bottles". Good luck trying to play a rousing game of Name That Genre with Pax 6 because, strike me down if I'm lying, some of these miniature genres might not have names yet. For that reason, I don't know if I can proclaim it as one of the year's best jazz releases or one of the year's best rock releases. All the same, Pax 6 is still one of the year's best releases.

8


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Film

Apocalypse '45 Uses Gloriously Restored Footage to Reveal the Ugliest Side of Our Nature

Erik Nelson's gorgeously restored Pacific War color footage in Apocalypse '45 makes a dramatic backdrop for his revealing interviews with veterans who survived the brutality of "a war without mercy".

Music

12 Brilliant Recent Jazz Albums That Shouldn't Be Missed

There is so much wonderful creative music these days that even an apartment-bound critic misses too much of it. Here is jazz from the last 18 months that shouldn't be missed.

Film

Greta Gerwig's Adaptation of Loneliness in Louisa May Alcott's 'Little Women'

Greta Gerwig's film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel Little Women strays from the dominating theme of existential loneliness.

Music

The Band's Discontented Third LP, 1970's 'Stage Fright', Represented a World Braving Calamity

Released 50 years ago this month, the Band's Stage Fright remains a marker of cultural unrest not yet remedied.

Music

Natalie Schlabs Starts Living the Lifetime Dream With "That Early Love" (premiere + interview)

Unleashing the power of love with a new single and music video premiere, Natalie Schlabs is hoping to spread the word while letting her striking voice be heard ahead of Don't Look Too Close, the full-length album she will release in October.

Music

Rufus Wainwright Makes a Welcome Return to Pop with 'Unfollow the Rules'

Rufus Wainwright has done Judy Garland, Shakespeare, and opera, so now it's time for Rufus to rediscover Rufus on Unfollow the Rules.

Music

Jazz's Denny Zeitlin and Trio Get Adventurous on 'Live at Mezzrow'

West Coast pianist Denny Zeitlin creates a classic and adventurous live set with his long-standing trio featuring Buster Williams and Matt Wilson on Live at Mezzrow.

Film

The Inescapable Violence in Netflix's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui)

Fernando Frías de la Parra's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui) is part of a growing body of Latin American social realist films that show how creativity can serve a means of survival in tough circumstances.

Music

Arlo McKinley's Confessional Country/Folk Is Superb on 'Die Midwestern'

Country/folk singer-songwriter Arlo McKinley's debut Die Midwestern marries painful honesty with solid melodies and strong arrangements.

Music

Viserra Combine Guitar Heroics and Female Vocals on 'Siren Star'

If you ever thought 2000s hard rock needed more guitar leads and solos, Viserra have you covered with Siren Star.

Music

Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts Honor Their Favorite Songs With "Oh No" (premiere)

Ryan Hamilton's "Oh No" features guest vocals from Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo, and appears on Nowhere to Go But Everywhere out 18 September.

Music

Songwriter Shelly Peiken Revisits "Bitch" for '2.0' Album (premiere)

A monster hit for Meredith Brooks in the late 1990s, "Bitch" gets a new lease on life from its co-creator, Shelly Peiken. "It's a bit moodier than the original but it touts the same universal message," she says.

Music

Leila Sunier Delivers Stunning Preface to New EP via "Sober/Without" (premiere)

With influences ranging from Angel Olsen to Joni Mitchell and Perfume Genius, Leila Sunier demonstrates her compositional prowess on the new single, "Sober/Without".

Music

Speed the Plough Members Team with Mayssa Jallad for "Rush Hour" (premiere)

Caught in a pandemic, Speed the Plough's Baumgartners turned to a faraway musical friend for a collaboration on "Rush Hour" that speaks to the strife and circumstance of our time.

Music

Great Peacock Stares Down Mortality With "High Wind" (premiere + interview)

Southern rock's Great Peacock offer up a tune that vocalist Andrew Nelson says encompasses their upcoming LP's themes. "You are going to die one day. You can't stop the negative things life throws at you from happening. But, you can make the most of it."

Music

The 80 Best Albums of 2015

Travel back five years ago when the release calendar was rife with stellar albums. 2015 offered such an embarrassment of musical riches, that we selected 80 albums as best of the year.

Film

Buridan's Ass and the Problem of Free Will in John Sturges' 'The Great Escape'

Escape in John Sturge's The Great Escape is a tactical mission, a way to remain in the war despite having been taken out of it. Free Will is complicated.

Books

The Redemption of Elton John's 'Blue Moves'

Once reviled as bloated and pretentious, Elton John's 1976 album Blue Moves, is one of his masterpieces, argues author Matthew Restall in the latest installment of the 33 1/3 series.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.