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ALBUM OF THE MONTH
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Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble
(From The Stairwell)
2011
Staff Rating: Crank this to 7.5 of 11
Genre:
Dark Jazz, Trip Hop
Sounds Like:
Bonobo, Morphine
Dark Jazz is a genre that accentuates an ominous, dissonant atmosphere through the use of combining the styles of jazz and dark ambiance. Forging the use of synthesizers and samples with traditional instruments (cello, trombone, violin, guitar, bass and vocals), making for a genre that is on its own stratosphere. Welcome The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, a sextet formed in 2000 in the UK as a project to write music for silent movies. The band is comprised of talented musicians such as Hilary Jeffery (trombonist), Nina Hitz (cellio), Sarah Anderson (violinist) Eelco Bosman, Charlotte Cegarra (vocals) and Jason Köhnen.  

From the Stairwell takes us on a meandering tour through trip-hop and jazz as opening track "All is One" starts slowly with a gloomy horn section and bass tones than eventually shifts itself into a gentle piano section. The song gradually develops into a woozy, jazzy spacious song; as we get to hear the subtle vocals of Charlotte Cegarra. "Giallo" starts off as a dark, atmospheric jazz instrumental with beautiful background chants; than morphs into a bizarre collection of electronics and sampling, this could be one of the high points on the album. "White Eyes" continues this style of off-beat jazz/drone, giving us sounds we rarely hear in today’s music.

The experimental "Cocaine", takes us off the path and is a bit disappointing, it’s full of sample tones along with machinery noises, tripped-out chimes and electronic trip dub, and since it’s about eleven minutes, it can be a bit tiresome and makes for decent background atmosphere. This leads into "Celladoor", be patient with this one as it starts off slow, but will develop into quite a unique song.  The haunting "Cotard Delusion" is a stunning piece of work, with eerie violins, a morbid sounding cello, echoed percussion and a few scattered vocals really highlights the musicianship. "Les Etoiles Mutanta" creates a mood as if you’re walking aimlessly along a side street in France at about 2 a.m. amongst immense fog and strange shadows abound. The albums closer "Past Midnight", tends to get lost in all this as it is twelve minutes long, it does have some fascinating sounds as it is distant and spacious, like it has been written for a movie.

The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble’s brand of trip-hop jazz is quite unique as From The Stairwell tends to range from sad, depressing arrangements to innovative beats and samplings leaving the listener engaged. And apart from TKDE, you may be interested in their side project, The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation, who are a jazz/drone band, consisting of TKDE members and other interchanging guest musicians.

Standout Tracks: Cotard Delusion, Les Etoiles Mutanta
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