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16 April 2011

Shotnez Bursts Onto The Scene

Once in a great while there appears on the musical horizon a fresh, new sound that pushes into new areas of the sonic spectrum. Today, that new sound comes from Shotnez, a band formed by Ori Kaplan and Tamir Muskat, of Balkan Beat Box fame. The music comes from an experimental base, but still speaks to us from their Mediterranean roots. Smooth melodies are punctuated with wild improvisations and complex rhythms.

The Guitar lines of Stephen Ulrich have a surf quality that adds another dimension to the antics of Kaplan’s multiple Saxes and Muskat’s eastern punk Drumming and mixed Electronica, while Itamar Ziegler’s Bass holds everything together with finesse. Short bits of spoken word add to the mood and randomness of the endeavor.

The band’s website uses the terms Art Rock, Noise Rock, and Crime Jazz to describe the music, but I think that I can most easily relate to Mediterranean Surf Noir. Shotnez truly is cutting edge music and defies classification by genre. The genre listed in the iTunes Store is “Alternative,” a term that I think is vastly over-used. All that being said, I think that Shotnez is on to something here that is rich, deep, and exciting.

The opener, Stolen Goods is a fast-paced tour-de-force that will whet your appetite for what is to follow. Driving Drums, Bass, and Electronica back the Sax/Guitar lines that have both a Surf and Balkan quality, if such a thing is possible.

Bagdad is a bit more experimental in nature, and has only a slight Middle-Eastern rhythmic quality.

Golden Apples is a bit more low key, with sparse percussion and longer melodic lines from the Saxes, and Jazz Organ pads underneath. Some tasty improvisational turns from the Sax and Guitar add some authenticity and remind us that Jazz is to be found here in some measure. The slightly out-of-tempo bending melody near the end is a nice touch that lets us down easy and shows the soul of the band.

Swag is a smooth groove with a swinging drum feel and great interaction between Sax and Guitar.

New Country starts with a nice Guitar riff, with Bass and Percussion. The Saxes join in with a very smooth Jazz line in harmony, then break into a sweet improv section. I Wish it was a longer track.

Chaos features some cool interplay between Sax and Guitar, with a lot of background Percussion going on. A nice slow jam is happening here!

Untested cranks up the heat with a frenetic beat and cool electronic rhythms going on, and a jazzy line from Sax and Guitar.

New Low is a moderate tempo jam featuring Guitar in a Punk-Jazz vibe followed by the Sax in a similar vein. I guess this is what Crime Jazz is all about. Yeah, baby!

Black Eyed Susan starts off easy, but soon the Saxes come raging in with the melody, supported with the strong attack of Bass and Drums. This is my favorite track and, I think, really defines what Shotnez is all about. Great stuff!

East Broadway takes us back into the Jazz groove, with Sax taking the lead on a smooth line that sounds like it could be a movie score. Probably the most traditional song on the album, it is a fabulous crossover piece for those just discovering the Shotnez universe.

Dear John is a rich interlude for the Guitar. This could also make for a good movie score, as the smooth lines lead to a sense of serenity.

Make It Run takes us back to a bluesy Surf Noir groove, this time with a Vocal. It has a beatnik 1950’s feel that is so cool and so fitting the Shotnez vibe. Check out the driving Bass lines that keep everything moving forward.

Shotnez has burst onto the scene and thrown down the gauntlet for all those Alternative-Punk-Jazz-Rock-Electronica fans out there. These guys are not about to be pinned down to a single music style. They have created their own distinct brand, and that is Shotnez. Enough said! Highly recommended for all of you who enjoy seeking out new sounds and new musical expressions. Yeah, man. Groovy!

1. Stolen Goods 03:28
2. Baghdad 03:45
3. Golden Apple 05:17
4. Swag 03:09
5. New Country 02:06
6. Chaos 03:51
7. Untested (Fifth Bordeaux) 03:23
8. New Low 03:42
9. Black Eyed Susan 04:35
10. East Broadway Boogaloo 03:04
11. Dear John 02:46
12. Make It Run 04:30

The Band:
Ori Kaplan- Sax
Tamir Muskat- Drums/Electronica
Stephen Ulrich- Guitar
Itamar Ziegler- Bass

Shotnez- JDUB Records