Tied & Tickled Trio: a.r.c.
The latest release by the Tied & Tickled Trio, the jazz-electronica collective comprised of members of The Notwist, Ms. John Soda, and Console, pairs a CD single (the twenty-minute, previously unreleased “a.r.c.”) with a DVD of a Munich club performance, videos, and bonus material. Film-makers Jörg Adolph and Anton Kaun used portable and fixed cameras (b&w and colour footage recorded on super 8 and digital video) to record the April 12, 2004 concert performance at Registratur, Munich . The multi-angled video document perpetuates the surveillance theme of the group's last album, Observing Systems, with 'interference' effects reminding us that the viewer's reception is mediated (too intrusively so during “a.r.c.”). Though the video may seem redundant to those already possessing the album, the DVD lends the twelve-member band greater personality with the ensemble working through the material confidently, the set coming across as merely one more night on the concert club trail.
Seemingly indebted to the big band conceptions of Charles Mingus and Gil Evans, the band's traditional, full-bodied arrangements are a bit of a throwback (notwithstanding the occasional presence of electronic elements and detours into alternate stylistic zones) but are satisfying nonetheless. The set opens nicely with the relaxed desert trek “The Long Tomorrow,” the emphasis on the strong front-line (bass clarinet, trombone, trumpet, tenor sax) and an impassioned, Coltranesque tenor solo. The group also indulges in Crescent-styled saxophone melancholy (“3.4.E”), Sun Ra spaciness (“Radio Sun 4”), and aggressive ensemble bluster (“Freakmachine”). As if defying anyone's attempt to pigeonhole the group, the Tied & Tickled Trio veers into a trippy dub zone on “Tamaghis” (with its electronic emphasis, the tune is more Pole and Porter Ricks than Ellington) and dancier territory on the broiling funk vamp “Motorik.”
On the videos tip, skip the 1997 low-budget, Star Trek homage “Tusovska Dub” for the higher-quality “Revolution” (2003) which references revolutionary figures (The Clash, Public Enemy, Che Guevara, Ghandi, and others) while an animated 'TTT Tours' bus cruises through a convenience store's aisles. The 'Bonus' section is generally superfluous: there's a grainy live take of “Motorik” from Istanbul 2005 that's rendered irrelevant by its presence in the concert segment, while “rara avis” presents the band in near darkness in Köln in 1999, the focus on an undeniably powerful tenor sax solo. More amusingly, “Tusovska Dub” shows a five-piece version of the band recorded 'live' (the sound hardly matches the display) on a Berlin TV set in 1998, but with the interview segment entirely in German, the piece has limited appeal.
The largesse of the DVD features makes the CD single seem almost an afterthought. Still, “a.r.c.” is an effective piece, very much representative of the group's big-band Eastern-jazz style with the members solidly digging into Micha Acher's composition. An interesting release though more a stopgap than anything. Look upon it as a reasonably satisfying video document with the CD single providing extra value.