The German band Dirk Scheuer Softcore Explosion was originally a one-man project that started somewhere in 2006, but since 2011 guitar player Dirk Scheuer is accompanied by two other talented musicians: bass player Patrick Bucher and drummer Michael Hodapp. So finally the one-man project changed into a power trio. On this album though, only Dirk Scheuer plays all the instruments that is guitar, bass and keyboards. The drums patterns and loops are used by courtesy of Simon Phillips. Being an instrumental trio, it's hard to define the music of the band. On the well-presented promo package it says 'instrumental post-jazz core'. Indeed, it's instrumental with numerous jazzy passages and interventions, but mostly it's well-played progressive and relaxed music. The music on Nulla Vita Sine Musica softly passes by; you can sit down and listen to it, or you better lie down, close your eyes and let the music take you away.
With the opener Burn In Hell - starting with a riff that resembles American Woman by the Canadian band Guess Who - the band's diversity is immediately clear. This piece takes you on a trip that lasts more than eleven minutes. It flows through a number of different moods and styles of guitar playing, spoken words and additional electronics. It never gets bored so you still want more of it. The second song Whole Lotta Guitars sounds a bit like the way Jan Akkerman would play a jazzy tune. Driven by the sound of keyboards from the seventies, the relaxed guitar sounds change into a more rock-oriented piece with great adventurous drumming and fine melodies. Next is Organic Tubes : a familiar sounding guitar plays over a base of keyboards. This song has a feel of the late sixties or the early seventies with nice chords, a powerful bass and an omnipresent drummer.
The next impressive piece Jamming Transmitter also has a touch of the seventies, but the guitar forms a bridge to the present time: a fine blend of both worlds. Agent Beat is a relaxed and emotional piece with Dirk Scheuer playing an impressive melody with a minimalistic solo over it. Dancefloor Rock Mission contains acoustic guitar music that gently takes you to a kind of movie score; it sometimes sounds like Mike Oldfield meets Frank Zappa at a party of Steve Morse. These are not the least names to be compared with. The untitled bonus track contains a fake live atmosphere; the first part really sounds as a live power trio, but in the middle-section the synth flute and the keyboards turn this song upside down. The great guitars and a hint of Zappa prove that this bonus deserves a place on the album. Great song, but I don't know if it's available on the regular edition.
For me this album is a fine addition to my collection since the musicians don't stick to the conventional musical paths. It's neither the normal shredding material, nor the jazz-rock fusion kind of music, but a most impressive and innovative album with relaxed and sometimes almost improvised jams. If you like instrumental, guitar-oriented music, you need to listen to Nulla Vita Sine Musica. I think you will be highly impressed, just like me!
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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