[This review was first published in Jazz Journal in 2013.]
Wollie Kaiser (bs)
Andreas Kaling (bs)
Jan Klare (bs)
Dirk Raulf (bs)
Billion Dollar Babies
Smells Like Teen Spirit
This third album from the self-styled “first and only all bass saxophone quartet in the world” is indeed an invitation to the dark side. Gone are the Kylie Minogue, Beatles and Dylan covers of their previous offerings in favour of the ‘dirgier’ end of the 70s rock spectrum. That said, DS have by no means mislaid their sense of humour – as evinced by the Spinal Tap-esque black on black cover.
What we have is a selection of bass-heavy versions of songs from Alice Cooper, System of a Down, Black Sabbath and so on (heavy metal played with heavy metal) and as usual, the choice of music and the arrangements are spot on. In particular there is something about the music of Black Sabbath that turns out to be peculiarly suited to the bass saxophone – a brooding sense of deep menace – and Dirk Raulf & Co. make the most of this with a medley of classic early Sabbath tunes as the album’s centrepiece.
Lest you think that ‘novelty’ covers are the extent of Deep Schrott’s abilities, similar to their 2010 debut One there are a smattering of original compositions which fit the ‘dark side’ theme well. From the relentless drive of Stag and the funereal intro to Secret Service, to the simple low-tempo power of Yamantaka, when freed of other songwriters’ structures and the melodic expectations of the listener, the quartet chooses to explore somewhat more disjointed territory. The optimistic jollities of the past are long gone and evenly interspersed as these tracks are, they provide a dark surrounding landscape for the more familiar fare.
However, it’s the recasting of those familiar tunes which will probably make the most impact (and be in demand at live performances) and whether it’s a Jim Morrison vocal line, a David Lynch soundtrack, or a Kurt Cobain guitar riff, Deep Schrott prove that it’s all grist to their idiosyncratic bass saxophone mill.