Berlin-based drummer Eric Schaefer is concurrently active in jazz, classical, post-rock and electronica, and his band The Shredz is the place where it all collides. Their 2013 debut Who Is Afraid Of Richard W.? took a sideways look at Wagner, and when I reviewed follow-up album Bliss in 2016 I was gripped by the “joyous noise”, a heady cocktail of electric Miles, the nujazz of Molvær and Truffaz, and the dubby instrumentals of Bill Laswell.
Breaking ties with Siggi Loch’s ACT Music, the group now return with their third album. The music is harder, heavier, darker and more experimental than ever, an intoxicating blend of trance grooves, spatially disorienting dub and abrasive industrial textures. At the centre of it all sits Schaefer, his rhythms forming the bedrock from which each piece is built. Renken and Meitz’s roles are both melodic and textural, while Eckhardt takes care of the low end, often so low that his presence is physical.
I can imagine almost any of the tracks stretched to album length jams, and each has its own particular character. The opener is a pulsating journey in dub, gathering momentum as it goes. Astral Turf is more open, closer to the frozen soundscapes of Molvær, while the skeletal groove of Run It Together builds to a crushing crescendo as layers of sound are superimposed. Longest track Acid Fjord provides an opportunity to observe the group’s quicksilver interactions over a longer duration, and the short Spectral Sludge is simply a wall of visceral noise. The minimalist Afrobeat of Afrodelic Shred frames a fluid solo from Renken, and Red 40 feels like a redux of all that has preceded on this wonderful set.
Available to stream at all major platforms, Orbit can also be purchased in a variety of digital download formats from Bandcamp.
Don’t Lamp With A Freestyle Phantom; Astral Turf; Run It Together; Acid Fjord; Spectral Sludge; Afrodelic Shred; Red 40 (47.23)
John-Dennis Renken (t, elec); Volker Meitz (kyb); John Eckhardt (b, elb); Eric Schaefer (d). Berlin, 2023.