With a name like Adolf Plays The Jazz, this band was always going to be, well, a little out of the ordinary. “Form Follows Function” is their fourth album since forming in 2002, but it’s the first one I’ve come across; and jolly good it is too. If I were to try to give it an all-encompassing description I’d probably say it’s multi-instrumental post-rock with jazz influences. I’m ashamed to say that I’m not really familiar with the current Greek music scene, but if “Form Follows Function” is anything to go by then it seems to be in a particularly healthy state.
At times restrained, at others a veritable wall of sound, the songs on “Form Follows Function” – while recognisably post rock (or shoegaze, if you will) – do not conform to any single template, instead delivering an eclectic mix of sounds and approaches, using a collection of instruments that mark Adolf Plays The Jazz out as much more than effects pedal monsters (although check out the immense pedal board on their website; their local music shop owner must have paid off half his mortgage with all of their purchases).
“Form Follows Function” isn’t as heavy as some post rock albums – although it undoubtedly has its moments – but chooses instead a subtler approach, layering instruments to create often dense, intricate songs. At times the instruments complement one another, while at others they produce contrast, particularly where more unlikely and unusual instruments appear in the mix.
The title song – “Form Follows Function” ebbs and flows like waves, its almost ambient, restrained start (featuring what sounds like a xylophone) becomes an Ozrics-like sonic wash, building to a crescendo of effects-heavy guitar before the melody is picked up by electric piano and eventually fades away, only to reprise briefly with some slightly off-the-wall sampling. It’s a song that provides an excellent representation of the quirky, creative nature of Adolf Plays The Jazz.
Using a variety of instruments as they see fit, Adolf Plays The Jazz utilise woodwind (“Impact”), strings (“Oddy”), brass (“Lesser Will”), and indeed anything else that takes their fancy. These are often accompanied by hypnotic percussion, repeated themes providing the backbone for many of the songs. “Oddy” appears almost jazzy, until the mid-song change when sibilant hi-hat and rim shots accompany brass and strange, disembodied vocals.
What Adolf Plays The Jazz manage to do with great success is to make the music sound positive and uplifting, even at its densest and most claustrophobic; while simple passages give way to complexity and vice versa.
“Form Follows Function” is a very good album by an accomplished, talented band of musicians and definitely worth a listen if post rock with a creative twist is your thing (and even it isn’t, you should try it anyway; I think you’ll be glad that you did). If it represents the level of music that Greece is producing at the moment, can we have more please?