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Dale Cooper Quartet & The Dictaphones: Metamanoir

img  Tobias Fischer

The more things stay the same, the more they change: As one would have expected (and hoped), all nine rhythmically driven and electronically enriched pieces on Metamanoir once again hark back to the fundamentals of darkjazz. By endlessly repeating these basic building blocks as a stoic loop, things lean towards abstraction and a dark, warm and open sound panorama. Despite the dizzying depth of its background structures, the Dale Cooper Quartet always provides for ample breathing space as well, creating the impression as though the entire performance were taking place within a sort of huge hall. Resulting from this is a marked contrast between intimate arrangements and an expansive sound - an impression which is even more pronounced in the live situation, as visitors to the Quartet's gigs can readily testify.

Just like the formation's debut, Metamanoir relies heavily on a blend of subtle pads on top of a hypnotic rhythm section, muffled experimental trumpet motives and the use of guitars less as an accompaniment or support than an atmospheric element. And yet, this element can also, as on the nervously rolling „Mon Tragique Chartreuse“ develop a subtly destructive power and depress a track's mood in an almost fearful way, supported in its aim by a percussive skeleton of parasitic noises and to-the-point field recordings constantly oscillating between sex and fear. And yet, subsequent „La Terrible Palais“ aptly balances these sensations and eases the tension by counterpointing it with a distant chorale and upfront, warm and rich vocals.

The far more significant role awarded to both male vocals constitutes a surprising and unexpected change on the Dale Cooper Quartet's second LP. The band have managed to sail clear of both jazz- and experimental clichés and turned the lyrics into a perfectly organic element, which never relegates the instrumental contributions to the status of mere interludes. Subtlety is vital here: Just like the cover, the music relies on highly effective minimalism.

By Hellmut Neidhardt

Homepage: Dale Cooper Quartet
Homepage: Denovali Records

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