Chaotic Jazz : KAOS Protokoll

KAOS Protokoll: Marc Stucki, Benedikt Wieland and Flo Reichle.
“The world sinks into chaos, and we provide the soundtrack!”

KAOS Protokoll is a love-at-first-sight type of band as I was struck by their sound at the first go. I discovered them a bit late, but it doesn’t matter to me as good music is always good music. The Swiss band KAOS Protokoll consists of Benedikt Wieland on bass, Marc Stucki on sax and Flo Reichle on drums. They met at Music College when they were all studying jazz. They have been playing together for three years but they already have a unity – musically and mentally. In 2012, they released their debut album “Quick & Dirty” from Prolog Records and in 2013, the band was one of the finalists in ZKB Jazzpreis – prestigious Swiss award for the development of young jazz musicians. They note John Zorn as their inspiring jazz musician and it can be easily seen that his eclectic style has an effect on the band, not one to one but mostly in the way they blend different music styles and improvise freely. Benedikt Wieland usually writes the main themes while Reichle and Stucki weave them gradually and the finalization comes from all three. Despite the chaos in their compositions, KAOS Protokoll is not so far away from being melodic and harmonious as well, what I refer to as “chaotically melodic” :)  So, let’s go deep into the album “Quick & Dirty”.

The opener and my favourite “Pulet Mit Joghurt” starts with the walking-hand-in-hand of the sax, bass and drums. Then the walk gives a break due to a storm in which all instruments go frenzy with bass and drums beating hard and heavy while the sax splatters its notes. Suddenly the storm goes away and the walk goes on lazily while knowing it won’t last long as the song is all ups and downs. My second favourite “Sauhund” (meaning ‘idiot, asshole’) opens with a kind of story-like intro in German by Raphael Urweider and is followed by a bit of melody from the previous song but then it turns into a psychedelic rock with heavy beats, booming bass and rich brass sax. It feels like being in the middle of a forest running without knowing where to go until a psychedelic atmosphere sinks in. Besides, sometimes it reminded me of Korn’s “Freak On A Leash” mostly because of its bass riffs, I think. After “Scharmützel”, meaning ‘skirmish’, opens like a discussion, with its reggae style it eases into a lazy song along with a nice melody which later turns into a frustrated, wailing sax while the rest of the band responds to it with precise beats and a fast bass. Finally, one –and they also- cannot help laughing at the whole scenario. “Black Jimmy” is a ballad with its perfectly -timed rhythms, a melodic sax, and its repeating catchy bass riffs. It has a kind of hypnotising effect as it is steady but at the same time improvisations makes it chaotic deep inside. After the longest song “Black Jimmy” finishes with a harmonica, “3 Gegen 4” starts with a funky feeling mostly due to the lovely bass lines, however, the song surprises you with a waltzing rhythm after a while to present a proof for its title. It is hard not to accompany the song with some dance moves or hit your feet on the ground along with the rhythm. With the joining of Andreas Schaerer in the band with his effected murmuring vocals, “You + Me is Kaos” becomes a perfect description of the chaotic song, you being the band while me being Schaerer, in my opinion. Once again, one feels lost in the forest surrounded by ghosts whispering and sometimes shouting. When the sudden rhythmic part comes to save you, ghosts evaporate into musical notes. The shortest song “Lovesong” immediately wraps you with its warmth leading you to dance in the middle of the forest under a bright sun within the chaos. Stopping after such a ballad would, of course, be against the nature of the album, so “Rodeo” welcomes you into 70s with its catchy and repetitive bass lines. The processed sax accompanies the bass like chasing cars at first and then totally makes a u-turn and goes along its own way while the rhythm section is the only stable element – the road with its own twists and turns. If it were a bit faster, it could well be a piece of full throttle action music. Then in the middle, the car chase comes to a halt and you fall into a freely improvised world of sax and drums. While “Le Désert” is a dub song with the multi-charactered sax, fluctuating rhythms and lovely bass lines sketching a psychedelic desert, “Herbst” brings in the grey autumn weather slowly laden with electronics instead of fallen leaves. Sometimes there is the howling energy here and there, however, it immediately gets back to its dark mood with reverbed sax riding over incessant drumbeat and bass riffs. In between “La Désert” and “Herbst”, there is the mini “Protokoll Vom 29.01.12” featuring Raphael Urweider’s vocals over a music box version of “My Way” bombarded with all the instruments exploding at mini intervals. “Bettflasche” conveys its flashes at the beginning through the transposing and vibrations of the sax. The bass and sax get along well playing the same notes accompanied by an unexpected and unsteady beats of Reichle. “Antiheld” is an icy ballad that you find yourself looking down from a cliff and then imagining a prepared jump as at some point the band gets louder but not faster. “Kaos Is All Around The World” puts an end to the album with a mini chorus.

Benedikt Wieland’s distorted, rocking bass lines, Flo Reichle’s getting lost in his free beats and Marc Stucki’s improvised, processed sax have shown that there is also serious playing going on. Their journey into the multi-faceted music making also reminds me of Mats Gustaffson’s Fire! in the way that how far they can force the borderlines in music. KAOS Protokoll have already defined their own path: rock (and reggae) meets free – and avant-garde –  jazz plus dub, electronic music, while flavouring the sound with effects and processors that I love to hear. To sum up, KAOS Protokoll are a fun but serious band to listen. I definitely wish to see their live performance some day as I believe it will be more chaotic than the album. Fingers crossed.

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