The Unsemble

The Unsemble is a collaboration between Duane Denison (The Jesus Lizard/Tomahawk) on guitar and keyboards, Alexander Hacke (Einsturzende Neubaten) on bass and electronics, and Brian Kotzur (Silver Jews) on drums and keyboards.

Following with the exotic album intro Krishna, the aptly named Circles features a circular guitar riff in 7/8 time reminiscent of The Jesus Lizard. But like many of the signature Denison riffs on this record, eerie synth passages, dub-inspired bass lines and tribal sounding drums surround it. Circles sounds like something that could have been on Tomahawk’s Anonymous, which I personally prefer to their most recent album Oddfellows.

The next song is Improv 1, the first of the five interludes on the album. With their moody atmosphere, the improvised tracks feature inspired minimalism similar to krautrock, Pink Floyd’s soundtrack work, and/or Glenn Branca. Act 3 then arrives with a moving bass line, upbeat groove, EBowed guitar, and rockabilly-like figure snaps. Check out the killer video for the track below.

Chaingang is hauntingly minimal with what sounds like the drummer playing his kit with chains, while Neon wouldn’t be totally out of character on a Tortoise record with its bass synth, upbeat groove, and melodic guitar passages. While Shadows and Waves both bring film scores to mind, Shadows has a chunky bass riff and spy-film vibe. Wave almost sounds like a b-side from The Police with more dub bass, a hypnotic guitar riff, and theremin sounding keyboard parts.

Circles Revisited slows down and shortens the same riff from Circles while adding evocative chords with tremolo/delay over top. Cyclone begins with a slowly-moving bass synth part over echo-treated drums (again very dub-inspired). About half way into the song, a slide guitar creates melodic movement for the piece. The album ends with Voices, which is another fairly downbeat tune featuring a baritone guitar melody over a world music inspired riff similar to something off of an 80s King Crimson album.

Fans of The Jesus Lizard and Tomahawk will likely dig parts of the record, but don’t expect something rock-oriented! But if you’re a fan of minimal yet emotionally fulfilling instrumental music and film scores, check this record out.