Zero Centigrade - I'm Not Like You [Twilight Luggage - 2010]Itís incredibly interesting to see what diverse ranges of sounds very minimal set-ups can yield. That goes for both traditional instruments and electronics or other non-musical sound sources, Iíd say. Consider, for instance, Aube works such as Pages from the Book or the Millennium series, for which single sound sources were used to create hugely diverse sound scapes. Or, at the more musical end of the spectrum, jazz saxophone player Evan Parker, whose solo sax works such as The Snake Decides sound like anything but works that were conceived either solo or with only a sax.
On 'Iím Not Like You', the duo of Zero Centigrade employ the fairly traditional (yes, I know my understatements) trumpet and acoustic guitar, yet the resulting sounds are anything like what youíd expect. Romantic Miles Davis Kind of Blue era smooth jazz trumpet wails? Soft guitar strums, loose strings fingered gently to melancholy effect? I donít think so. While the sound sources are certainly recognizable, the guitar and trumpet are played so that they often bear little resemblance to guitar and trumpet. Asides from strumming, finger picking, soft blows, there are squeaks, squeals, clicks, pops Ė more often than not, youíd swear that Zero Centigrade was a trio, hints of percussion being prevalent throughout the album.
The result is certainly interesting Ė which, I realize, is the type of classification usually used for music more peculiar than good. Yet 'Iím Not Like You', despite its unconventional approach, is certainly not a pretentious or too calculated album. It feels organic enough, and its free-flowing character makes the work something that is easy to get lost in - a quality I certainly appreciate. Musically, itís hard to pin down; itís rather that elements in the music remind of others (the sometimes tuneless strumming invokes Jandek; the occasional sparseness brings to mind jazz avant-gardists MÍlťe). The end product, in itself, is convincingly idiosyncratic.
That is not to say, however, that 'Iím Not Like You' is without its flaws. Most stringent is a lack of sense of direction Ė indeed, the shadow side of the recordís organic, flee-flowing character. There seems little regard for any sure structure, which is risky, and Zero Centigrade do not seem to have the purest, undiluted talent or expertise to make it fully work. The interplay between the two artists is certainly not all that, and one and one, unfortunately, do not make three here. Finally, sound-wise, the record often sounds too matter-of-factly; the recording is adequate but too direct, capturing the guitar especially with a precise clarity that rids it of any warmth.
'Iím Not Like You' is an enjoyable album that shows a lot of potential Ė given the right time and proper documentation, Zero Centigrade may well be destined for greatness. Iíll be very curious to see what the future has in store for us.Sven Klippel