I first came across Konstrukt thanks to their early collaborations with Peter Brötzmann, and they’ve made many more recordings with equally impressive collaborators, including Marshall Allen, Evan Parker, Thurston Moore, Keiji Haino, Graham Massey, Eugene Chadbourne, and Alexander Hawkins, as well as veteran Turkish drummers Okay Temiz and Hüseyin Ertunç. Not bad for an Istanbul-based group that’s only been active since 2008.
Recorded in 2015, Molto Bene (Holiday Records) was recorded in two days in an Italian studio en route to a Berlin festival date with William Parker, but it’s one of their few quartet sessions.
With no big names to defer to, mainstays Umut Çağlar and Korhan Futaci make the most of centre stage and a formidably revamped backline, making this is their most focused and powerful set so far.
Unlike the all-acoustic Eklisia Sunday with Brötzmann, it folds in diverse electric and electronic elements.
Lead cut “Mercan” (08:23) begins gently enough, with rustling hand percussion and flute evoking nature sounds, but that’s supplanted by primitive synth and percussion, an injection of deep bass throbs and distinctly Turkic reed rasps, and finally a rumble of full kit drums tipping into full forward momentum charged by double bass and full-throated freejazz alto saxophony.
There’s no overspill once “Mercan” reaches escape velocity, but “Alarm” picks up the intensity and runs it through a surging succession of tightly compacted detonations, stretching a mere 05:53 to incorporate knotty polyrhythmic intricacies laced with wild electronic textures and jazzy, versifying saxophonics.
This is thrilling stuff, marrying the passion and urgency of fire music to the psych intensity of Black Bombaim’s recent summit with Peter Brötzmann and the complexities of the post-Zorn psychoverse.
The urgency is emphasised by the album’s brevity: although Molto Bene comes in a welcome CD edition (of 300 copies), it’s been cut to fit comfortably onto two sides of vinyl (just 250 copies).
Side two brings a change of pace, with synthetic drum pulses and ominously brooding synth introducing 14 minute cut “ToiToi”. But – repeating side one’s trick of metamorphosis – boldly acoustic textures soon take over, with brighter guitar figures and electronic glimmers expanding into frame drum percussives, and deep bass supplanting the synth. The rhythm section briefly locks into a long-stride rhythm, but expectations are subverted, and the piece moves instead into a weightless place.
It’s Berke Can Özcan’s powerful full kit drumming and Barlas Tan Özemek’s punchily thrumming electric bass that ratchet up the intensity, sounding not unlike producer/bassist Bill Laswell’s work with the mighty Ronald Shannon Jackson on Last Exit’s solo studio album, Iron Path, and (more so) the contemporaneous Akira Sakata album Mooko.
The concluding three minute blast through “Anjio” tops things off in fine style á la Full Blast, with Brötzmannian sax skronk, Gordian-knotted bass and drum rumpus and some interesting fx treatments thrown into the mix.
Seems Konstrukt have learnt well from all their diverse collaborations. Notwithstanding the comparisons I’ve made above they’ve developed a very distinctive sound, which is as tight, lean and melodically incisive as it is powerful. Molto Bene shows that they can now throw it down as well as the best, without any passengers.
Umut Çağlar – electric guitar, electric piano, synth, reeds, flute, drum machine; Korhan Futaci – tenor & alto saxophones, reeds, voice, loops; Barlas Tan Özemek – electric bass, synth; Berke Can Özcan – drums, electronic drums, percussion.
Buy Molto Bene direct from Holidays Records.