Nils Wülker: Go (Warner Music, 2020)

April 19, 2021 at 6:13 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Nils Wülker: Go

Completing a trilogy, the newest album from trumpeter Nils Wülker is a very studio-driven fusion of jazz and electronics, with plenty of arpeggios and percolating melodies. The drums feel live but also technology-enhanced, and they often feel closer to rock or electro than jazz rhythms. It does get a little clean and background-y, but at least it feels more adventurous than radio-friendly smooth jazz, with vaguely glitchy beats on “Distorting Time” and some psychedelic phasing on his trumpet during “The You of Now”. I feel like this album would appeal much more to fans of downtempo electronic acts like Tycho than most jazz audiences, however, as it doesn’t really have the swing or flow one would normally expect from jazz. But it works as a sort of hybrid of jazz trumpet and instrumental pop; I haven’t listened to any of Herb Alpert’s latter-day work but maybe it sounds close to something like this. “Seat 47” starts out sounding almost like synth-funk but ends up with a more sentimental melody (which isn’t too different from that of the preceding track, “Hybrid”). “Highline” is a remote duet with fellow trumpeter Theo Croker, and one of the more upbeat songs here, but in an ’80s smooth funk way. “Blow Up” has more of a cold minimal techno pulse to it. “Perlage” brings things back into the light with a warm, rimshot-heavy groove. “Faced With a Choice, Do Both” seems to have a tentative dual nature but ultimately does what it says and goes forward, with two trumpet lines singing out over lightly skipping synth arpeggios and clopping drums.

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