Just when you think you have heard everything, you are contacted out the blue by a band named Etienne Pelosoff that state that they are original and are doing something that has never been done before. Usually, this would end up being a let down due to the fact that the music is not original at all, but on this occasion, I am unaware of any other band playing black metal mixed with jazz that sounds like Mayhem meets Miles Davies.
The only comparison I can make is the Norwegian Shining at their most chaotic, or maybe Old Lady Drivers when they would do Eric Clapton covers, but this is just light years away from either band. Etienne Pelosoff’s self-released debut Trve Brutal Black Jazz has outright blast beats, scat, swing and everything else in-between which makes me believe that they are original. Consisting of nine musicians, each contributing to this most brutal of art forms that takes multiple listening before you get it. There will be times where you are thinking this is rather soothing and then there will be times where you are thinking “what the hell is this?!”. This is exactly what this band want you to think and I for one, after damaging my eardrums for the rest of my life, will keep an open eye on what this project does next.
“So What” starts off mellow with a creepy flute introduction before blast beats, screams and high pitched guitars commence, interspersed with saxophones and every other concoction you can think of. This sounds like it could be messy and chaotic but it’s all beautifully constructed and I would say there were more jazz moments in this song than black metal. The sound of the EP allows every instrument to be heard, and credit must go to the recording team that is able to get everything in. I wonder what Miles Davies would think of this.
“Tritone Labyrinth” is initially much more listener-friendly and can be similar to Ulver‘s Perdition City in places but with that slightly more jazz element. Each instrument from the metal framework is interspersed with jazz phrasing and I must admit, it’s hard to deny that it all works. The rulebook of genres has well and truly been thrown out the window where blast beats merge with saxophones, and piano merges with deep vocals, culminating in each instrument having their solo which flows as smoothly as it possibly could.
“See-Line Satan” has a mixture of vocal styles ranging from the growlier side to screams and almost whispering rasps. The piano is much more prevalent throughout this song and there is even some light ambience in the middle of the track which came as a nice surprise. Finishing with the trumpet and saxophone having a battle as to who shall rule supreme, each has numerous solos to use as weapons in this pulsating battle, which culminates in female vocals and ambience.
“Soul Power”, a James Brown cover, starts with noise and scat before mellowing into more jazz-like smatterings once again. The jewel in the crown with this track is the solos and how they are recorded. With two separate drumming styles, they feed off each other through alternate speakers which again brings the imagination of the project to the fore. The track ends with the guitars portraying a more groovy element to the song interspersed with the trumpet once again.
“Tutu”, originally by Marcus Miller and Miles Davies, has certainly more groove to it and guitars are much more active in this song. Opening with furious blast beats and the heaviest guitars throughout this EP, this could be the closest thing the band do in terms of playing an actual song with structure and every element including the bass lines have the wow factor. A song that has been said reinvented jazz and the definition of cool, has been given a sick and twisted going over which either musician would love. Or maybe it would scare them shitless. It’s hard to say.
With a song title called “Trve Brutal Black Jazz ”, you ain’t going to get melody. Chaos ensues with everything at blistering speed, with scat and growling vocals the order of the day, backed by trumpets. It wouldn’t surprise me if the band members got together, pressed record and just played. Halfway through the song, samples are played of choirs and are quite soothing before chaos once again ensues. This is the most black metal of all the tracks on display here and blast beats and heavy guitars and trumpets close things off.
I must admit, when I first listened to this I was like “what the actual fuck is this?” but I persevered and gave this multiple listens and that’s what Etienne Pelosoff’s project wants you to do. You will never understand this and to be honest, I don’t think he truly does either but I can say that it is definitely one of the most obscure, difficult but rewarding recordings I have had to endure. I shall be keeping an eye on this London based project. Beware… not for the faint of heart.
Trve Brutal Black Jazz is out now