Multi-instrumentalist Gigi Gratt has created an ambitious solo double-LP Das Ganze Doppelalbum (INTERSTELLAR RECORDS INT044), a work themed on the four seasons. Each side is themed on one season, and each long track is created (mostly) just using a single instrument. We have heard this able player before on a record by Tumido, a band which he co-founded – on Nomads, he played the trumpet and the Cuban Tres (an unusual stringed instrument). Gratt, here appearing as Gigaldi, hasn’t neglected the sense of rhythm that typifies the music of Tumido…the opener ‘Winter’, created with an electric bass, has a darkened funk-beat that is certainly lively, but the piece is also undercut by a strange sense of foreboding and angst. A meeting between Swans and James Chance on a Euro-disco dancefloor, which turns into a discussion about all the bad weather we’re having.
As to ‘Frühling’, that’s all made with overdubs of the flugelhorn, producing some pleasing tones and drones arranged in a systems-ish fashion, as if Steve Reich had been commissioned to score the soundtrack to a Wim Wenders movie. Then in the second half there’s a rather clunky attempt to render “swing feeling”, using samples of the horn to create an entire rhythm section. Toytown jazz for a children’s TV show of the 1990s. ‘Sommer’ is a lush and resplendent assembly made using the Tres – it shifts through a number of not-inappropriate Latin-inflected rhythms and, using its vivacious strums, suggests that your entire summer can be a Club 18-30 Holiday in the sunshine. Then the wistful and reflective ‘Herbst’ conjures an autumnal mood with a gently-caressed electric guitar, like a wispier and less spiritual version of Daniel Fichelscher from Popol Vuh.
Quite nice overall, though it sometimes feels like there isn’t quite enough material going down to justify the average 15-minute length of these instrumentals. Indeed Gigaldi often has to resort to editing and splicing techniques, joining together 3 or more recordings, to make up the deficiency. The album feels like it’s a demonstration of studio technique and Gratt’s instrumental capabilities, often at the expense of actual tunes or ideas. Lastly, as sound-portraits of the seasons go, I’d have to say this is one not particularly imaginative; comparable to a coffee table book of banal images of sunsets, trees, and cats. From 4th December 2017.