CD Review: Manu Koch’s debut album

320392067-1Artist: Manu Koch
Title: Triple Life
Label: self released
Genre: genre border-crossing music

I had the pleasure of attending a live performance by Manu Koch not long ago (for which I wrote a review). The concert was amazing, and I was eagerly anticipating taking the time to listen to what he and his colleagues would come up with in the studio. The results were pleasantly unexpected.

The lovely jazz poetry of a Fender Rhodes floats out of a void. It slips like incense smoke into the framework of the bass and drums. Lush chord melodies speak softly like a lover. This dreamy dialogue surrenders to a funk beat with ornaments of clavichord, synth, and vocals. Thus begins New Year’s Labyrinth, the first track on Koch’s CD Triple Life.

The CD covers an impressive variety of musical mood. It takes the listener to different soundscapes with each track, and is not confined by the constraints of genre and style. Koch is a fearless and innovative composer, band leader, and musical visionary. At times the mood is jazzy, then you are immersed in an enveloping cloud of electronica, and then this will give way to forays in African and Middle Eastern music, or the occasional dabbling in loops and samples as a backdrop upon which the “Kochian” vibe is manifested. The jazz and funk element is never far away; and the Fender Rhodes piano holds dominion over the music as a whole. This jazz ethic always draws whatever “other” music is happening into its sphere of influence.

All the tracks on Triple Life were written and arranged by Manu Koch. The CD boasts of an impressive aggregate of musicians; Malika Zarra (vocals), Panagiotis Andreou (bass), Balla Tounkara (kora), Brahim Fribgane (doumbek, oud, cajon), Dr. S. Karthick (mouth harp, konnakol), Mister Rourke (turntables), Apostolos Sideris (bass), Matt Dickey (guitar), Harvey Wirht (drums), Yuval Lion (drums), Engin Gunaydin (drums / percussion), George Mel (drums), Sebastian Nickoll (cajon), Jovol Bell (drums), and Students of the Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music (konnakol). Everyone contributed to the work with sensitivity to Koch’s musical vision.

Triple Life is a masterfully crafted recording, and in the end, quite beautiful.