Superstring and the Cosmic Vibrations

Michael Kramer - Superstring and the Cosmic Vibrations

There is a comic story line accompanying this album.
-Episode 1 "Gangter Flick" - https://youtu.be/lIaLPo96Xh4
-Episode 2 "Elided" - https://youtu.be/RRodtWOtrj8
-Episode 3 "The Peaceful Key-Muncher" - https://youtu.be/sZulevmbOKw
-Episode 4 "Dodged Bullets" - https://youtu.be/0h7kb5NgL_A

Liner Notes:
Describing jazz music using linguistic terms is so common that it’s become cliché, but those underlying analogies are so strong, that it’s a risk I’m willing to take in order to describe the music of Michael Kramer/Superstring and the Cosmic Vibrations. There are musicians who master a specific, existing musical dialect. There are also musicians who create their own vernacular, an amalgamation of the many things they love and have learned from. This is a trickier path, because it produces an unfamiliar and unpredictable outcome. It takes time for a clear, personal, unified concept to emerge from the pool of influences. I first listened the music on this album in preparation for gig with Mike, and I was immediately struck by this holistic quality. Although the elements—the grooves, the guitar sounds—are familiar, there is absolutely nothing generic about Mike’s compositions. They are unique and personal.



When it comes to swing tunes, Mike prefers his melodies winding and snakelike, as in “Elided” and “Bloodline”. Although the guitar is a chordal instrument, the solos on these tunes remind me of the looseness of a chordless trio; indeed, Mike generates his intensity through the sound, feel, and note choice of his guitar lines, not a reliance on heavy chord clusters. “Gangster Flick” is a distortion-soaked tune in 5/4 time, which true to it’s title, would sound right at home in a neo-noir crime thriller. In “Peaceful Key Muncher”, the band reaches a beautiful swell of energy over the meditative, drone-like structure of the tune. There are numerous other highlights on the album, but these tracks are notable standouts.



All of my favorite musicians have an element of mystery in their playing and compositions, and this is a quality that is very apparent to me in Mike’s music. This can be expressed through technical avenues, where improvised lines and chords don’t explicitly spell out the chord changes, and song forms abound with rhythmic surprises and twists. However, these are just tools to arrive at what is really a conceptual achievement, not a technical one. However, jazz is art, and art doesn’t need to explain everything to it’s audience-it doesn’t feel compelled to tell you everything about a feeling. In this context, the presence of the Superstring and the Cosmic Vibrations comic-physics story arc is perfect. If you’re looking for explicit scientific associations from which the music was derived, you won’t find them spelled out (and I wouldn’t want them to be!), but you will find a fascinating window into the world that has inspired Mike to make the music of this record. Jazz is both an academic and folk music, but it’s roots are the latter, and all good folk music is deeply mysterious.

~Ele Rubenstein - October, 2018.
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