Hans Koch

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Fidel Review

by Thom Jurek

Alright, first of all the liner notes to this collection are terrible: they are nothing more than cultural theory. The only cultural theory that matters here is in the music itself; it tells its own story and doesn't need some half-baked social scientist like Werner Lüdi's remarks to explain or justify it. Yawn. Second, there is no use talking about song title here, because the entire collaboration is so exciting. Here the crazy trio of Hans Koch, Martin Schütz, and Fredy Studer went to Havana and got it on with a slew of Cuban musicians in what might be the anti-Buena Vista Social Club. Like their previous Heavy Cairo Traffic album, this trio went to Cuba to see if they could integrate what they did into a framework of what already existed and then stretch it. Apparently, given the wildly enthusiastic participation of more than 18 musicians from Fidel-land, they succeeded. Tape loops, reeds, strings, all manner of percussion instruments, guitarrons, brass, noise, free improvisation, traditional song forms extended to their breaking points, and structured improvisations create a mosaic of textures and a panoply of harmonic elements that speak in numerous linguistic and emotional codes to express transculturally, what could never been articulated at a dinner table or in a baseball game. This is fully Cuban music, this is fully improvisational music, this is fully new music. No compromises were made in the conception of these ideas or in their execution. This record rocks as hard as any thing Mötley Crüe ever did, and holds within it the timeless beauty of the Cuban son and the anarchy of the best in free improv. What more can you ask for?

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