Riddled with accessible and heady melodies, the Munich quintet’s first album, Mara, is the unnoticed hit of 2018.
Fazer’s sound would verge on easy listening if the rich rhythm and inspired solos didn’t make their first album unmissable. The Munich group have put their finger on the right formula: “We wanted songs with good melodies. If you can whistle it or sing along, if the melody sticks in your head all day, its a good one! And that’s what we were aiming for. I don’t think it can be too simple or too childish in that sense. “Woody,” for example, is catchy, but the song is very far from pop. It’s eight minutes long and contains a lot of improvisation. I like to bring the two worlds together,” says Martin Brugger, the bassist behind the group.
Fazer has the sound, the pop sensibility and the name, which does not necessarily stand out for individuality. In terms of organization, the leader speaks of an improvisation led jointly by the quintet. The two drummers suggest grooves upon which the group unfurl their sound in the form of tight jam sessions where the soloists’ aim is not to shine but to help the sound ring out as a whole. “The pieces have no rhythmic arrangement between the beginning and the end. We set the mood with the melody and see where it takes us, where we can go with it as a band. We always try to make sure all five of us are on the same wavelength.” When Fazer’s quintet get the juices flowing in unison and at a fast pace, it is like a steamroller of sound that nothing can resist. Guitarist Paul Brändle and trumpet player Matthias Lindermay’s brilliant solos on the highly addictive “Akom” and “White Sedan” act as the finishing touches.
Between hypnotic and polyrhythmic grooves, the quintet builds a limpid and touching narrative, one which achieves a goal sought by most musicians: to keep the listener in suspense. On the modal basis – that is to say made of few chords – that is adopted by the quintet, the two drummers complement each other to install rhythms that evoke West Africa: “the polyrhythmic influences come from our drummers. They are passionate about music from West Africa, India and Latin America. Non-Western music is much more centered around groove and rhythm.” Without this drummer² (described by Brugger as an “eight-armed drummer”) to emphasize the group’s unity, something he suggests is unique for a jazz band, Fazer would not have the same appeal. “Elephant Rave” includes three minutes of percussive dialogue and acts as a tribute to the drummers’ ubiquity.
Having finished their studies at the Music Academy in Munich, the quintet ensures that they are broadcasted in places that attract the new generations. This desire translates into concerts that are off-the-beaten-track and a certain ingenuity in their strategy for reaching audiences: “there is this techno club called Blitz. Last year, when the album was released, we played our music on their huge sound system before the evening began. It was our way of connecting to the electronic scene. To make sure it was a good experience, the quintet had “White Sedan,” their most acclaimed title, remixed by two djs: “you can hear the jazz pieces again in a club setting, played by djs who normally focus on house.”
In Munich, the place from which historic labels such as ECM, Act and Enja radiate, “there is a lack of jazz venues for young people,” says Marin Brugger. It’s hard to train an audience to like jazz here. But we have no doubt it’s a very good music scene. One of its most important nerve centers is a web radio station I participate in called Radio 80 000.” Brugger is a morning presenter and active member, adding that the project has become “a rallying point and a network in Munich. It’s a melting pot of different genres, from electronics and jazz to dub and others. I believe that this is where it’s at!” Fazer’s second album, announced for the end of April, is likely to resonate in other places that matter as well.
02/02/19 – Fazer – La Petite Halle (Paris)