Boomkat Product Review:
The seeds for Rhys Chatham's Bern Project were planted when the guitar composer visited Bern, Switzerland in 2008. Here Chatham joined with a band of local musicians whose drummer (Julian Sartorius) and bassist (Mago Flueck) particularly impressed him, leading to the formation of a trio which six months later would extend to incorporate trombonist Beat Unternahrer and engineer Reto Mader. Recordings were made which reportedly underwent over 100 hours of heavy mixing and mastering treatments, but the hard work was clearly worth it: The Bern Project has turned out to be a compelling mixture of post-rock and avant-jazz, starting with the slow-burning drones of 'War In Heaven' which shifts from brooding atmospheric tones to a full-on, blistering, prog-big band configuration. 'A Rite For Samhain' is a little more guitar-oriented and explores the electric instrument's textural capabilities, but it's not long before 'Scrying In Smoke' ushers in a phase of droning, experimental brass and a kind of metallic fusion-funk the like of which you might associate with a band like Ultralyd or The Shining. In the second half of the record 'My Lady Of The Loire' offers up a miasmic concentration of flailing horns and occasional moments of harmonic resolution while 'Is There Life After Guitar Trio?' goes someway towards answering its own question by relishing the onslaught of flooding guitars and minimalist noise-rock clamour.