Mörglbl: Brütal Römance

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Mörglbl: Brütal Römance
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Mörglbl: Brütal Römance
Jazz, Progressive Rock
Free Electric Sound
June 5th, 2012
Release length: 1:02:49
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One of the things that you can largely expect from instrumental acts, especially those in the Progressive Rock or Metal fields, is a general performance from individuals who feel the need to show off and present themselves as the next Steve Vai, Carlos Santana, or even Dream Theater. The insane amount of pretentious material, often not equal to the sources he/she/they are trying to emulate, is quite astounding and enough to shake even the most rabid fan of the style loose a bit. But, every once in a while you get one of those that do it right. Mörglbl is a French trio that have been around for a while, but you were probably not exposed to unless you were more into the Jazz side of things, and in the proper lesser-known-label circles. Brütal Römance actually marks their fifth full-length, yet another to be issued through Free Electric Sound, and it’s immediately clear this is meant to be a fun, yet laid back and quirky Progressive Rock inspired recording. But, was it handled as well as it was executed?

If nothing else, the production definitely is. Everything is mixed just right to allow each instrument to stand out, despite the apparent emptiness that exists. The electric guitar has a cleaner distortion to it that stands out well thanks to it’s slightly louder audio quality, but the volumous bass really adds that deeper groove the recording needs, especially when the chords become more like an extended solo. While it doesn’t quite fill the background up, thanks to the slightly distant drums as well, it still comes through pretty heavy at times, even to the point where you could qualify the term “crunchy” in description of the rhythm. The drums sound soft, often suiting the more laid back tone of the album. The cymbals are very light, but still pretty crisp, as are the mid-range snares that carry a similar softer touch. The bass kicks have a subtle thud to them that sticks out due to the emptier atmosphere, though still working well with even the heavier material that appears on songs like “Brütal Römance” and “Oh P1 Can Not Be.”

Brütal Römance is also rather tongue-in-cheek, especially given the satyrical side of song titles such as “Gnocchis on the Block” with eighties pop sensations New Kids on the Block, as well as “Oh P1 Can Not Be” which seems to be a take on the Star Wars character name Obi Wan Kenobi. Sometimes the music is a little heavier and serious, but feels more like a softer performance for the sake of writing something good without worrying about how heavy or in depth it is. The guitar work is often an interesting blend of early instrumental Rock ideas you might find in a Santana album, but again there are heavier moments that can bring a modern Animals as Leaders vibe to a Steve Vai atmosphere, all with varying ranges of Jazz influence. The oddest one of them all, however, was “Fidel Gastro,” which often made me remember the music to the first Sonic the Hedgehog title for the Sega Dreamcast, which is an interesting and relaxing tune that was a little more upbeat, but made me picture a scenic resort while unwinding at poolside.

This allows Brütal Römance to become an album you can just pick up and get lost in. When the chords do gain technicality, as well as even a little extra edge, you often get a good look at how flexible the group is. “Gnocchis on the Block” is just a really upbeat song that has a Progressive Rock approach to establishing an atmosphere that just takes you away if you let it. The cleaner chords don’t go off into too intricate a foundation, but it still stands out thanks to the cleaner sound that can be a bit over-the-top while still just being lighthearted and fun. “Le Surfer d’Argentine” is easily one of the most memorable. The bass plays a larger role in both grounding the song, as well as filling the background up, while the drums sound richer overall. The energy is great, though the group is not afraid to go into awkward chords at a slower pace to give a bit of a creepy and unnerving tone. There are plenty of well executed shifts throughout, all of which keep the experience fresh and unique while still being fluid from start to finish. “Golden Ribs” is a solid longer track that shares many similar traits to “Gnocchis on the Block,” and “Oh P1 Can Not Be” offers some really catchy material that will have you bobbing your head along to the heavier riffs thanks to the extremely infectious bass performance and overall groove.

But, for as enjoyable and quirky as some songs are, there are times where the material can feel a little bland. “Canital Goyave” does allow a little more atmosphere to come in, but the guitars are just a little too weak, relying heavily on the bass to carry them. Unfortunately, that instrument ends up having some traditional grooves amid the more impressive ones, causing it to actually sound a little liughter than before. This creates gaps where your attention will be lost. As it picks up towards the last minute, things do sound a little richer, and the bass becomes more dominant in it’s own right, but less important thanks to the stronger, more vibrant guitar chords compared to the previous roughly three and a half minutes. This does also carry over into “Glucids in the Sky,” utilizing some more tight but short and cut chords with a simplistic bass groove that allows the emptiness to come through a little more outside the obvious chorus.

This recording does have some short comings, such as the emptier audio sound at times and a few cuts that don’t quite stack up, but overall, Mörglbl have put together another strong recording that’s well worth experiencing. The fusion of Jazz with Progressive Rock ideas works out very well, and makes for a soothing effort you can easily get lost in, or at the very least just unwind and have some fun with. If you haven’t heard this group yet, than Brütal Römance is as good, and as important a place to start getting to know these three individuals as any.

01. Gnocchis on the Block – 5:32
02. Brütal Römance – 5:03
03. Le Surfer d’Argentine – 6:54
04. Golden Ribs – 7:00
05. Fidel Gastro – 6:48
06. Oh P1 Can Not Be – 5:03
07. Cantal Goyave – 5:18
08. Glucids in the Sky – 6:22
09. Wig of Change – 5:34
10. Metal Khartoom – 5:23
11. 11 Casse – 3:54
Overall Score: 8.5/10

Digital review copy of this release provided by Free Electric Sound via Freeman Promotions.