Personnel: Manuel Troller (guitar); David Meier (drums).
Audio Mixers: Willy Strehler; Schnellertollermeier.
Recording information: Gabriel Recording, Stalden, Switzerland (04/2013).
The title of the Cuneiform debut of Switzerland's power trio Schnellertollermeier denotes a location of dislocation. On their third album since 2008, they have developed an approach to music where distinctions between conventionally marked terrains -- heavy metal, post-rock, prog, electric jazz, new music, improvisation, noise, modern composition, etc. -- meet in one place (the "X") and vanish. In their place is a music that is aggressive (at times brutal), wildly ambitious, and indefinable by common standards. Certainly they have influences. The bandmembers have studied and collaborated with key figures in modern music: guitarist Manuel Troller has studied under Fred Frith and played with Gerry Hemingway; drummer David Meier works with the free improv unit Things to Sounds and leads Hunter-Gatherer; bassist Andi Schnellmann is the son of composer/guitarist Ernst Schnellmann. While their name is arresting and initially confrontational, it also perfectly describes the group's sound. The title track is the opener. It acts as a manifesto for the rest. Everything happens at once: rhythm, dissonant harmonics, fractured melodies, spiraling dynamics, and polyrhythmic aggression confront, then converse and transform into one holistic thing. Each member solos while playing support and keeping time. Over 20 minutes long, the track careens across sonic and musical geographies. As quickly as the listener can identify a reference point -- whether it be King Crimson, Raoul Björkenheim, Ornette Coleman, Meshuggah, or Stravinsky -- it vanishes into the moment that emerges, sprawling with enormous force, toward some further margin. "Sing for Me" commences with drones (courtesy of arco bass) and washes of ambient guitar feedback and moves toward an unnameable center rather than bursting from one. "Massacre du Printemps" is a multi-textured work that makes a labyrinth of repetition. Industrial and post-metal join and fracture it, delivering an assault that is as beautiful as it is grimy. The first two and a half minutes of closer "///\\\///" consist of a shimmering, hypnotic six-note phrase played with admirable restraint before tempo and tension increase. They never explode, avoiding post rock cliché. Schnellmann's distorted bassline claims the center and rides herd over his bandmates or elaborates along an ever-widening path. Schnellertollermeier's X makes a statement about what is possible for the guitar trio in terms of composition and performance in the 21st century, yet asks many new -- and at the moment unanswerable -- questions about them as well. It rocks. ~ Thom Jurek