Phillip Dornbusch's Projektor - Re/construct (Album Review)
14 April 2023
Album Rating: 4/5
Live Potential: 4/5
Diversity in Songs: 5/5
Favourite Songs: Demons, In Art We Trust, Anthem
Projektor is a multidimensional musical project, fronted by Berlin-based saxophonist Phillip Dornbusch. The music is frenzied and wonderfully chaotic with moments of tension and conflict, all in solidarity with sufferers of racism and social inequality.
Alongside Dornbusch within the Projektor lineup are Johanna Summer on piano, Johannes Mann on guitar, bass duty from Roger Kintopf, and percussion coming from Phillip Dornbusch.
Re/construct is the latest brainchild from the group. It’s an experimental and contemporary piece of work with moments of rhythmic irregularity and scattered exquisite beauty.
Dornbusch’s first album, Reflex, laid out the core ideas that Re/construct expanded: social ills, such as racism, mirrored in conflict-ridden movements of contemporary jazz.
For the second instalment on BERTHOLD Records, Phillip Dornbusch researched the album’s foundations via honest and personal discussions with sufferers of racism: paying homage to these conversations through the nine tracks of the album.
Jazz has always played a crucial role in the history of race relations in the USA and Europe. Projektor’s latest work pays homage to that and amalgamates such experience into a contemporary jazz form with the multidimensional and intersectional nuances of suffering mirrored in complex musical verses.
The album opens on 'Constant Vacillation', a perfect exposition to the album with irregular rhythm sections and grooves.
'Demons' features a crunching bass in dialogue with prodding drums before sax and guitar trills. Whether it refers to the demons of society or the demons of an individual, it is a haunting and mesmerising track. The guitar calls after two and a half minutes sounds like some form of weeping.
After a contrastingly peaceful interlude with slow horns and piano glimmers comes 'In Art We Trust'. A similar anchored-piano part reflects the opening to 'Constant Vacillation', almost like a leitmotif or a recollection of past trauma. Juju Rogers takes on sublime rapping duties, accompanying the music with powerful words and centring the jazz to its political root with phrases like: ‘invaded not invited’.
'Doubts' takes the album back to the irregular rhythms and free-jazz feel of the opening tracks before the more melodic 'Anthem'. Here, the guitar and bass are in dialogue in this tune, alongside some wonderful clarinet playing from Dornbusch. Lina Knörr's vocals add further colour to this lovely, fragmented piece.
'Good Faith' continues with clarinet and guitar musings before the tune drops into a relentlessly groovy but irregular movement that's bound to get the heart racing.
A common theme of the album is the music's tendency to flow in strange and wonderful directions. Rhythms are irregular, instrumentation collides and contrasts with one another, and songs differ from each in tone and feel. It mirrors the complexity of the album's core theme: social issues underpinned by racism and the way individuals perceive one another in an imperfect society.
This complexity runs through into 'Inescapable Network of Mutuality' and the powerful, drone-like 'Outro'.
Re/construct feels poignant in its message and powerful in its expression with irregularity and change a core running theme.
Dornbusch speaks of the music being aligned with his own process of reflection.
“I don't want to over-emphasise myself, just because I’m doing it. Above all, it should clarify the process of learning, which in my case is also not yet complete.”
What is complete, though, is the nine tracks that form Re/construct - a powerfully-gripping album that reveals new gems from every listen.
You can buy Re/construct or stream it here.
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