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Cassiber – The Way It Was

ReR Megacorp

Cassiber - The Way It WasMany years ago, I laid my hands on the Der Durchdrungene Mensch/Indianer Für Morgen LP by the multi-instrumetalist duo Heiner Goebbels and Alfred Harth, a fantastic avantgarde -New Wave/Neue Deutsche Welle/improv record. The way they blended jazz and improv with avantgarde classical and new wave style music triggered me to wanting to hear more of the work of these guys. The duo formed in 1975, and later met up with Chris Cutler from Henry Cow, and guitarist Christoph Anders to form a band that incorporated punk rock, free jazz and classical music, and thus formed Cassiber in 1982. Harth left the band in 1985. The Way It Was is a collection of live recordings and studio sketches from 1986-1989, and will also be part of the forthcoming Cassiber Box.

My first impression of the CD is that Cassiber took a lot of inspiration from ’70s prog, the kind that would include a lot of jazz fusion, like King Crimson, or even the more experimental classical influences, almost the way Gentle Giant did. But after listening for a while, the truth is that Cassiber was a whole lot more. The band is very difficult to put in a box when the tracks presented all vary from ’70s British prog, jazz fusion mixed with noise, punk, Dada, sampling beats, world music, krautrock, you name it. The opener and title track is in a very funky jazz fusion style, and likewise the second track “Archways” is a very funky but simple tune. But suddenly track three “A Screaming” turns out to be a weird combination of samples, loops and new wave moods and almost chanting vocals. The later track “I Was Old When I Was Young” I would expect to put in the category of elevator music, but the following “Disk not Responding” starts as a weird performance merging into a more heavy beat. Tracks like “Todo Dia,” “Oh No” and “Miracolo” are very experimental, almost musique concrète mixed with concepts of Dada, the latter also with elements from world music. So many examples make the album very funky at times, but turns quickly over to become an improvised experimental heyday.

It is apparent that this album is a document of what they did at the time, but it also stands out as an important release in itself. Almost like a history lesson, it moves from the various aspects of musicality from the ’70s, in combination of earlier classical avantgarde, and sounds and style from the ’80s. Yes, a few of the tracks are simple and boring, but the sound is great and the majority of the tracks are surprising, dramatic or just plain fun to listen to. So I will have to listen. More. Looking forward to the box.

-Ronny Wærnes-

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