release date: 18th October 2019
In March 2018, Escape Argot released the prominently cast Swiss trio to drummer Christoph Steiner (known from the band Hildegard learns to fly), his first joint album. Still Writing Letters was very well received internationally. The Confederation of Bern praised the “playful improvisational joke” of the “daring and enormously agile trio” and Bird Is The Worm was stunned to hear, “How suddenly they’re ready to shift into the most delicate phrasing, making the transition seem as natural as thunder to lightning, pressure into peace. “
Jazzzeitung.de summed up: “ Through their strong, homogeneous interplay, Escape Argot creates a very special sound, which unites musical opposites, grooving in a dreamlike way, and is determined by lyrical themes through to soulful, unbridled improvisations.”
And the Badische Zeitung from Freiburg stated: “Complex grammar and disarming directness, cleverly constructed textures and winning melos […] Escape Argot manages the feat of “
You. Me. Them. , the second work, builds on the proven concept and refines it. The energy level is similar, but Escape Argot can still grow dynamically. Christoph Steiner had already paid particular attention to this aspect when writing the new pieces. Consistently, the range now ranges from lyrical, almost melancholy-inspired passages such as in the play The Remains Of Lightness on the lurking restraint in Get That Poison Off That Tongue up to powerfully gripping crescendos, which rock up especially in improvisations. Some titles start relatively quiet, but gain in volume and tempo over time. As on the debut album, the music, whose immediate charisma can inspire rock fans, always takes on adventurous journeys. Intentionally, the pieces at their end do not necessarily return to the starting point, they strike surprising hooks on the way or can be happily shaken on uneven terrain.
Inspired by the interaction in concerts, the band has further refined their characteristic sound. Striking is, for example, how pianist Florian Favre is inspired by composer Steiner to sometimes go to extremes. For example, when he pounding the keys in seemingly full physical strength in Never Enough Not Enough massive staccato and cascades. At the other end of his sound spectrum are passages in which Favre evokes his knowledge of European classicism and modernity. At times, the clairvoyant pianist, born in 1986 in Friborg, plays with one hand bass lines on the Moog synthesizer. These are important for the distinctive band sound, but they remain so pleasantly restrained in the mix that no suspicion arises, so Escape Argot wanted to approach a zeitgeist.
Christoph Steiner generally composes on the piano, his differentiated pieces are never drum-cantered despite individual groove aesthetics (and a percussion solo in Plutimikation). Instead, they create exciting and detailed encounters at eye level. The fact that he “left more time and dig deeper” while writing this time describes the Swiss vintage socialised with rock and hip-hop, Miles Davis and John Coltrane in 1980 as a natural development. This “immersion work” is essential for You. Me. Them. Especially since he has included Florian Favre and Christoph Grab in different ways. Both brought their own ideas during the development process, some of the pieces contained on the album got their final face over six months through live performances. Others, however, were spontaneously rearranged during the two and a half studio days. The communication within the trio works long ago intuitively.
After all, Steiner and Favre already knew each other from the university in Bern. At the beginning of Escape Argot 2015, Steiner brought the saxophone player and live electronic musician Christoph Grab, who is now much older than 52 years old, to “move into a new situation.” The Zurich played in the past with Ray Anderson, Irène Schweizer, Mark Egan, Danny Gottlieb and others, showed determination and wit with his project Science Fiction Theater and is widely praised for his band Raw Vision (including Ronny Graupe). On You. Me. Them. Grab focuses on tenor and alto saxophone and impresses with a variable tonal language that ranges from fast-moving and melodic tones over rhythmic-edged phrasing to jumpy, harsh expressions.
Some pieces of the new album were quoted quite precisely and comprehensively by Christoph Steiner, such as the jumpy, high-contrast Allowing (The Pride Questionmark) , the playful Plutimikation and Absent Ascent with his gyrating character and staggered rhythm. On the other hand, for The Remains Of Lightness , Steiner brought little more than the tune to Get That Poison … just three small written fragments “to toast ideas.”
He already showed on the previous album that Christoph Steiner is one of the most reflective, politically minded musicians. The new compositions also associatively reflect his thoughts on social issues. At What Fuel, he not only abstracts the discussions about fuels, but also the idea, “What drives me, what is my contribution to the solution?” In Never Enough, Not Enough Steiner addresses the discrepancy between never getting enough and never having enough. “As a musician in Switzerland, we are of course privileged. But I have been a few times with my brother-in-law, an ethnologist, in Ethiopia, also in the rural area. These impressions between hopeful approaches and disappointment characterise the piece; subliminally also sympathises with those who do not get their necks full.” When plutimizing Steiner of course thinks of Pipi Longstocking. “They tell the children the story of the wild and naughty brat, but they should work in school. This results in a discrepancy and the question: what frame should I set for my own children? “Even more private backgrounds have The Remains Of Light and Whatever The Outcome , in which Steiner uses the fatal diagnosis of the illness of a family member and, despite his emotionalism, tries to maintain a certain degree of confidence. Allowing (The Pride Questionmark) ponders about allowing feelings and, even more profoundly, how to define oneself. “Pride keeps many people in their positions and prevents their own questioning,” Steiner has recognised for himself.
Of course, the album title You also plays . Me. Them. to the political level. Christoph Steiner finds the foreclosure concept of setting a “we” against “the others” extremely unpleasant. “You have to show edge, it takes attitude, which in turn requires that you deal with issues and views.” Therefore, it is important to at least listen to contrary positions, even if this is associated with effort. In You. In addition, according to Steiner, Me. Places the private dimensions of closeness that one seeks in difficult times. And Them. symbolise influences from outside, which belonged to it at all times.
Openness to other ideas may be easier to practice in music than in everyday life. Escape Argot, the sworn trio of different personalities, amazes you. Me. Them. Again with non-dogmatic and imaginative jazz, which sounds very short without short-lived trend quotes. The self-contained aesthetics, in which seriousness and playfulness, transparency and earthy force balance, can not only make jazz fans happy.
Christoph Grab: reeds, Florian Favre: piano & synthesizer, Christoph Steiner: drums, compositions
- The Remains Of Lightness 06:15
- Allowing (The Pride Question Mark) 05:45
- Plutimikation 06:08
- Get That Poison Off That Tongue 05:37
- Absent Ascent 03:33
- What Fuel 07:06
- Shimmering 05:37
- Part Of The Solution 01:41
- Never Enough Not Enough 04:02
- Whatever The Outcome 04:11
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