The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble
From the Stairwell


4.0
excellent

Review

by Martine Balcaen USER (8 Reviews)
March 31st, 2011 | 59 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: In an impressive progression from their previous releases, The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble treats us to a momentous trip to curious places. And there’s no doubt they’ll pick up new fans along the way.

Upon listening to The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, one will find that their lengthy name is actually quite fitting to their sound. The hodgepodge septet of Europeans (the ‘Ensemble’) began its peculiar origin (‘Kilimanjaro’) when band founders Jason Köhnen (AKA breakcore musician Bong-Ra) and Gideon Kiers began merging their audio and visual skills to readapt old films such as Nosferatu and Metropolis. The ‘Darkjazz’ part of their title is just that, an arcane interpretation of the otherwise familiar jazz stylings we all know. While not as grim-sounding as their German contemporaries, Bohren & Der Club Of Gore, TKDE exhibits an interesting mix of the dismal and the serene while constructing an atmosphere that is easy to be immersed in.

From the Stairwell comes to us after two little-known, but otherwise well-received LPs; their 2006 eponymous debut and 2009’s Here Be Dragons. In their previous works, TKDE have had a troubled way with direction and structure which, while still interesting, lead listeners to blur the line between The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble and their improvisational alter-ego band, The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation. In finally setting the two bands apart, From the Stairwell takes us on a winding tour of more of everything that had initially made their music interesting. More trip-hop, more post-rock and more electronic bits. With that, it plays as their most distinguished and intentional effort yet.

From a sultry string section leading into sinister horn and bass tones, the opening track, All is One, carries itself into a delicate piano section reminiscent of a Miyazaki film. It’s the perfect opener for the album to preview what kind of new tricks TKDE has to offer on this release. As the song progresses into an irregular ride pattern behind queasy muted brass tones and a certain ominous drone, we get our first taste of Charlotte Cegarra’s eerie, hostile vocals that take us to a tense and smoky jazz club. This is where TKDE’s imagery begins.

Only fifteen minutes later are we taken into the unlikely gem Cocaine, which sees your ears stumbling into gritty, busy factory that seem to be operated by… no one? Ghosts? It might not fit into the jazz-influenced mold that the rest of the songs on the album do but it’s the most evident result of TKDE’s experimentation within a sound they are already comfortable with. This barren track is full of industrial tones, creeping along with machinery noises, reversed chimes and what appears to be samples of steam-powered mechanisms that just grow colder and more intense until an ambient light is reached near the end.

On later tracks, such as White Eyes, the hopeful Celladoor and Les Étoiles Mutantes (The Mutant Stars), the band shows off the recent addition of Tortoise-esque post-rock elements to their repertoire as well as a ton of electronic bleeps and fizzes, no doubt on account of Bong-Ra’s background. The latter track, while not the closer, brings the LP back to the atmosphere it started on in All is One, only on a higher plane, a sign that we’ve now come up From the Stairwell. The bending guitar tones and electric keys behind Cegarra’s echoing voice bring to mind some of Stars of the Lid’s earlier material and set the music in some sort of luxurious floating space beatnik club leaving the earth’s surroundings playing only the most sophisticated of future-jazz.

It’s a shame that TKDE thought it was necessary to include the 12-minute, drawn out drone-fest that is the actual closer, Past Midnight. Without that track, in the light of everything mentioned above, I would have forgotten about the few things I thought weak from this release: Sporadic encounters with long, dragging sections somewhere between filler and build-up with often no details of interest as well as very busy segments where too many tones are blending and it’s difficult to comprehend what is going on in an otherwise quite articulate release.

As much as The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble’s brand of jazz isn’t mainstream material by any stretch, with From The Stairwell, they’ve made themselves accessible for the first time. By mastering what they already had to offer and then adding even more flesh to their bones, they’ve concocted a release bound to entice more than simply their obscure cult fan base. Finally established as a band with direction and intent, The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble’s 3rd LP is one to be taken in by an audience as diverse as the influences present in it.



Recent reviews by this author
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu Pamyu Pamyu RevolutionKaizers Orchestra Violeta Violeta, Volume I
Bohren & Der Club Of Gore BeileidFleet Foxes Helplessness Blues
Abraham An Eye on the UniverseJeniferever Silesia
user ratings (95)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
defjaw83
March 31st 2011


1772 Comments


Never heard of these guys. Your review has made me wanna check them out. Good stuff

Digging: Caribou - Our Love

defjaw83
March 31st 2011


1772 Comments


Oh and pos

pizzamachine
March 31st 2011


12571 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Can't wait to listen to this, so I won't wait.

DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
March 31st 2011


8899 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah this rules :]

Thane
March 31st 2011


2173 Comments


just downloaded this actually. love their self titled. cant wait to hear.

Digging: John Galm - Sky of No Stars

SlightlyEpic
March 31st 2011


5780 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

wonderful review for a wonderful album

cvlts
March 31st 2011


8967 Comments


no gracias

acorncheese
March 31st 2011


7119 Comments


Sounds interesting.

Jash
March 31st 2011


4244 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

This is so good it's ridiculous

defjaw83
March 31st 2011


1772 Comments


Jash just 5ing shit from all angles

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
March 31st 2011


18726 Comments


This is really good, but the new Mount Fuji is better. Good review too.

Digging: Execration (NOR) - Morbid Dimensions

balcaen
March 31st 2011


3183 Comments


disagree. after so many listens, couldn't get into the mount fuji. they're pretty different now imo. but thanks.

acorncheese
March 31st 2011


7119 Comments


Gotta check Mt. Fuji out too.

SlightlyEpic
March 31st 2011


5780 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I prefer this to Mt. Fuji

Rev
March 31st 2011


9437 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review, I really need this

scissorlocked
March 31st 2011


3511 Comments


listening to this right now and it's beautiful

good review man, the band is great

Digging: Traumprinz - All The Things

Xenophanes
Emeritus
March 31st 2011


10614 Comments


Hey, really stellar review, man. I must check this out if you enjoyed it this much!

Pos, duh.

Digging: Kayo Dot - Coffins On Io

liledman
March 31st 2011


3826 Comments


keep forgetting about these guys and mt fuji also, ill listen to both some time soon probably. nice review.

Ire
March 31st 2011


41803 Comments


I prefer darkjazz ensemble to doomjazz corp but both are great anyway.

twlichty
March 31st 2011


3412 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i have always enjoyed this band a lot more than mount fugi doomjazz corporation.... is this album as good or better than "here be dragons"?



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy