CHOICE CUT- Prommer & Barck ‘Alex & The Grizzly’


Prommer & Barck / ‘Alex & The Grizzly’

CD / Digital

Derwen Recordings / Released April 18th 2011

An album with a cover so fitting it’s as if the image came first. Or maybe the title. Chicken or egg, the contents are the same- deep, downbeat, jazzy electronica that’s so full of twists and turns it reads like a story.

This release was put together in just 20 days by Jazzanova founder and member (Alex) Barck, along with (Christian) Prommer, whose involvement with DJ Hell, Fauna Flash, Voom:Voom, and Truby Trio speaks for itself. Pedigree producers of accessible, leftfield noises. That fact becomes clear in the opener, Pictures of the Sea, a beachside brass and string chill out number, complete with occasional operatic vocals that gently springs into life as Moodyman with European theatrics.

Those expecting everything to stay laidback can think again though, as Gladys Knight proves. Cue Human League lyrical accents (sans femme), set to an upbeat keyboard and trumpet, fitting the classic punchy-house blueprint. A time travelling workout that’s no less suited to 2011 than any other retro-inspired tune, though here it’s more believable that these nostalgic results are accidental, and more the product of whatever studio hallucination took place over the three weeks of production, rather than cynicism or laziness.

And more focused dancefloor styles are present in The Barking Grizzle (Detroit/Berlin), wherein deep drums and basic Roland bass are joined by snappy hi-hats, a flute-like hook, and some robotic male loops. It’s a very different picture to the innocence inherent in Lovin‘s floating on a cloud intro, though when that descends into a huge, nu-disco edged, summertime house number it all makes sense- dropping us right in the middle of a diva led PA at a desert island bar.

By now the brevity should be more than obvious, though it’s important to also note the darker, more experimental moods that may well be the lasting impression after most first listen. Sleeping Beauty is a prime example, wherein the track starts with whispered sentiments and a blues shuffle beat, before diving into a huge sub, and re-emerging in tune with Portishead’s third album, only more suited to a movie soundtrack than art house score.

It’s safe to say that all the tracks on Grizzly‘s list are future bound, and take in everything genre-defying electronic music should. Perhaps Soweto Symphony is the most apt point to leave things on. Plodding drum, harp and tear-drop melody develops in harmony with our Kate Bush-esque leading lady, growing and grooving into a slick atmosphere that spreads oil-like from the speaker. Enter dubby breaks, and tribal rhythms, and we leave packed with electro beats and violins. In short; beautiful, eccentric, and absolutely essential, particularly as the warm weather creeps in.


Prommer & Barck / Compost / Juno