When five musicians with different backgrounds meet and form a band together, an artistically fruitful exchange, as well as a musically broad palette, are pretty much pre-programmed. The fact that the musicians also manage to form a cohesive unit - or even symbiosis - without forgetting their individuality, is probably the cherry on top. The Munich jazz group Fazer manages all this quite well. They met a few years ago during their jazz studies in Munich, and the five musicians started their joint journey towards the so-called "Kraut-Jazz-Band", which does not shy away from incorporating Afrobeats, Dub Rhythms, Krautrock or other styles into their music. But to deal less with categorical genre attributions from the outside, what makes the group so unique is above all, their way of interlocking, working and performing.
Their new album Plex is arguably the perfect example of this. The name 'Plex', which derives from the Latin plectere, means to weave or intertwine "and that describes very well the compositional approach of our music, especially on the rhythmic level", Martin Brugger, bassist of the group, tells us. This can also be directly applied to their studio recordings and live performances, which always result from a symbiotic interplay. The album just managed to escape the pandemic and was recorded just before the first lockdown in 2020. Brugger describes: "The direct interaction is irreplaceable for us, we have also recorded all albums live together. Therefore, experiments like songwriting via zoom or something like that were out of the question."
Incidentally, the concept and the musical approach of the album is also intertwined. Right from the beginning track, Ghazal puts us in a mood of departure, which makes us curious about the further course of the record. Characterized by the polyrhythmics of the double drums and the hypnotic trumpet playing of Matthias Lindermayr, we are transitioned smoothly into the following pieces. It seems like a long jam session, but at the same time, it can be divided into individual, small chapters. Between the groovy Thea, or the funky Fannie's Theme, Jaculysses puts us in a mystical atmosphere. Each of the individual tracks reinvents itself and the instruments, giving new meaning to the genre "jazz".
Plex is also their first album on the German indie label City Slang. A chance meeting between Brugger and label head Christof Ellinghaus at a Goldie b2b Martyn concert at Berlin's Club Berghain would lead to this fabulous collaboration a few years later. Brugger tells us: "City Slang offers us, as the biggest German indie label, the possibility to reach new layers of listeners*. Some of their records from the early days were formative for me as a teenager, such as Tortoise, Broken Social Scene or Caribou. However, the decision to go to City Slang came after the album was already finished, so it didn't affect the musical process."
What can have an effect on the musical process, however, is the change in the music industry. For some years now, streaming platforms have been an indispensable part of it. We asked Fazer where they see the line between digital distribution and traditional record labels: "I think it's always an interplay of both. A lot of people get to know new music through digital offerings before they (ideally) go to the store to buy the record. It's not always like that, of course. The constant availability and less than optimal remuneration structure of digital music makes it very difficult to refinance physical records through sales."
The story of how City Slang, streaming platforms and record stores will affect Fazer's further projects is one for another time. Until then, sit back and let Plex take you on a journey into the band's unique musical sphere.