The latest in our mix series comes Wolfgang Röttger, perhaps better known as Morgen Wurde. Röttger has had a prolific career over the last few years, releasing three records of intense dark-ambient jazz experiments. The term ‘ambient-jazz’ is maybe the sort of thing to turn many stomachs. Bringing to mind pot-smoking, ponytails and polo necks. Niiiice.
But there has been some major contributions from the genre. Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew arguably started it all, and remember the dark soundscapes of Bohren & Der Club of Gore and Angelo Badalamenti’s decade-defining soundtrack to Twin Peaks. Moreover, not all of it is sappy or sentimental. Wolf Eyes and Okkyung Lee have been fusing noise and improv to make jazz transgressive again.
With much of this stuff, a real or imaged visual element is often suggested. Listeners frequently cite Italian cinema, barren landscapes and dimly lit streets. Indeed, Röttger’s latest record, Assassinous Act, soundtracks a fictional film noir. The package for Assassinous Act comes complete with a fake “crime kit”: fingerprint cards, numbered toe tags and mugshots. All presented in a sepia-toned wartime aesthetic. The idea is to listen through the album whilst solving this contrived whodunnit. But what’s wrong with a little bit of youthful novelty anyway?
The mix that Röttger recorded for us is no less conceptual, featuring a selection of his favourite ‘wind’ music. Trumpets and sax feature heavily, often somber and alone against an unsettling backdrop of noise and atmospherics. If, like me, your knowledge of jazz has something to be desired, then much (all) of this tracklisting will look unfamiliar. Just try to push those ponytails to the back of your mind and get stuck in.
Foltz, Turner, Carrothers - Crosses
Sonik Teatar (Damir Bacikin & Nikola Jeremic) - Noise 2
Satoko Fujii & Natsuki Tamura - Dune and Star
Heinz Sauer & Michael Wollny - Seven Sharp
Di Domenico, Henriksen, Yamamoto - Mlouk
Per Jørgensen, Jon Balke, Audun Kleive - Blind Owl
Nils Petter Molvaer - Perimeters
Colorlist - Montreal
Arve Henriksen - Saraswati
Rone feat. Toshinori Kondo - Acid Reflux
SaffronKeira + Mario Massa - Pity
Evan Caminiti - Tied Limbs
Morgen Wurde feat. Toby Mak - Wandlung zeigte
Tetsuroh Konishi - Kemuri no michi (Road of Incense)
Seven Saturdays - Love in the Time of Anticipated Defeat
Morgen Wurde feat. Tetsuroh Konishi - Schreitet fort