Mathias Eick
Ravensburg


4.5
superb

Review

by Brendan Schroer USER (116 Reviews)
March 4th, 2018 | 17 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A motion picture of no dialogue... and all the better for it.

If you look at the tracklisting of Ravensburg, you’ll notice that most of the songs have only one-word titles. But let me tell you, the material within is anything but simple. In reality, Norwegian trumpeter Mathias Eick likes to let the music speak for itself, and the titles are simply there to provide a small basis for what the music elaborates on. Isn’t that the job of song titles though" Ideally. However, consider the fact that this is a completely instrumental jazz album, one that relies on imagery and delicate little touches to get its point across. Are you looking for a bombastic jazz record that’s showy and grand" You’re not going to get that here. These are quiet, meditative, hypnotic pieces of smooth jazz that benefit from turning small shifts in tone into a cinematic picture you can get lost in. In fact, this really does play out like a soundtrack to a movie that has yet to exist; it fills us in on certain details, while leaving enough to the imagination for us to keep returning to speculate on its mysteries.

Ravensburg is largely driven by homely piano chords and melodies, which straddle the line between comfort and melancholy. Eick might be defined by his trumpet work (as it is his main instrument), but the band dynamic is what shines in this experience. The piano and drums are just as important in fleshing out the wordless vignettes that mark Ravensburg’s identity, one which does its best in describing the meaning of each spare song title. If anything, the trumpet acts as the “voice” of the recording, as the sentimental melodies pop out of the solid framework the rhythm section establishes. Eick essentially sings through his instrument, coloring in any of the story elements that the other instruments missed. And believe me, you need repeated listens to get the most out of Ravensburg. Whether it’s the progressive and subtly-shifting drum beats of “Children,” the strange mood swings of the piano in beautiful opener “Family” (which has one of the most emotionally potent intros I’ve heard in a long time), or the percussive and stacotto-driven drum/piano pops of the more sprightly “Girlfriend,” there’s a decent amount of stuff to absorb here. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the graceful violin performances that arch over the record to strengthen its unique tone, especially on the aforementioned “Girlfriend” and the relaxing title track. There’s something to be said for an album and a group that can exude such poetry without even singing or saying a damn thing, but the instruments are there to provide all the descriptions you need to get a picture going in your mind. Just listen to the way “Parents” swings between moments of sadness, uncertainty, and solemnity, and you get the general sense the possible darker moments of Eick’s upbringing. Just listen to the nostalgia and sense of ease that illuminates out of the simple piano melodies and wordless vocals of closer “For My Grandmothers,” which (I’ll admit) brought me back to my old Christmas vacations with my grandparents because of its powerful depiction of sentimental home life.

What’s amazing about Ravensburg is that, while it does seem very personal to Mathias Eick himself, the way he portrays this material can just as easily apply to many of our personal experiences we’ve had growing up. Presenting it as a soft, understated jazz record with many intricate details is just as brilliant, as you can dive right back in to hear whatever small touches you missed the first time around. And it’s not like being soft doesn’t make it engaging either. It isn’t super flashy, but the beautiful sense of instrumental storytelling is what makes it so engaging. This is a man who’s able to tell a story without even telling the story. Impressive, isn’t it"



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Comments:Add a Comment 
SoccerRiot
March 4th 2018


5397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm trying to expand the jazz database and review base on this site. It's gonna take a while, but I feel pretty committed to spread the genre around :]

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
March 4th 2018


9123 Comments


Can't wait for that question mark bug to self-sort. Great review my man. I'd like to help but Jazz is really not my thing haha

SoccerRiot
March 4th 2018


5397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

lol yeah, that question mark thing is pretty annoying. And thanks for the feedback! This album is so calming and yet so powerful... honestly, even as a non-jazz fan I think you'd still enjoy it. There are quite a few prog and post-rock elements here

BlushfulHippocrene
Contributing Reviewer
March 4th 2018


2649 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Special characters seem to work in replacement of question marks if you can find an okay-looking one; I've seen Jots use them, I think, and they seem to work on the reviews I've tried them for. Anyway, this album is gorgeous, thanks for bringing it to our attention.

Digging: Lil Zubin - Heavy Down Pour

SirArthur6
March 4th 2018


264 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I can always get behind a good bit of jazz. Just jammed this now and love the more lucid percussive elements.

SoccerRiot
March 4th 2018


5397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks Blush. And thanks for the tips you gave on the FB group, I'll keep that stuff in mind for the future

Dewinged
March 5th 2018


12991 Comments


Between you and 50iL the Sputjazz is saved ;)

Good review man, this definitely looks up my alley.

And that new avy loooool

Digging: Kaelan Mikla - Not Eftir Not

SoccerRiot
March 5th 2018


5397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks! Yeah, I was trying to one-up my Spiritual Healing avatar but I think that one still wins, lol

MarsKid
March 5th 2018


7680 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Seems like this might be something fun to give a try. Not a bad review either. Really wish that question mark bug would fuck off, I've just started avoiding including them in anything I write to save the annoyance.

Digging: Noise Trail Immersion - Symbology of Shelter

SoccerRiot
March 5th 2018


5397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, I probably shouldn't have included so many questions, lol. I'll admit, I don't think this is one of my best reviews in retrospect (I may have jumped the gun a bit on personal inclusion and hyperbole) but I'll try to improve things the next time around.

MarsKid
March 5th 2018


7680 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's not your fault at all lol, you shouldn't have to exclude question marks if they fit the review. The issue is completely site-side.

JS19
March 6th 2018


6948 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Man that last track

SoccerRiot
March 6th 2018


5397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, it's a phenomenal note to end on. That piano is beautiful

TwigTW
March 7th 2018


3525 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This seems pretty tame at first, but there's a lot going on--definitely a grower.

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SoccerRiot
March 7th 2018


5397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

That's what I love so much about it. It's so calming, but then those little intricacies make their way into the music and bring a lot more depth than initially perceived

suppatime
May 8th 2018


1291 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

shit this is great

SoccerRiot
May 14th 2018


5397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

hellyeah it is



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