Schnellertollermeier ‘Rights’ (Cuneiform) 5/5

This album is a short ode to the harmonic. They’re all over the four tracks of ‘Rights’ by this Swiss three-piece. Perhaps as some sort of musical reply to the Futurist Manifesto? Probably more likely that they sound boss when you whack tonnes of delay on them. Looking at the press release, this musical spoonerism (Andi Schnellmann, Manuel Troller and David Meier) appear in some modest photos stood near a fish tank in a spartan, if smart, room. They look like interns in an office, and so I can fully accept Troller stating that he has “so far never listened to a (King) Crimson album or Yes or Genesis or other “classic” Prog bands”. Indeed, one could accept that even their parents might be too young for such dusty monoliths of yore. And, I must add, I personally find their fierce injection into “progressive” music far more fulfilling than gazing into the, often, rose-tinted “classics”.

‘Rights’ sounds more like the good bits of Battles, the confident bits of Health, kinetic bits of Swans. You could point this brash release at a lot of influences, but I doubt you’d get any of them right. They all look like they listen to Newton Faulkner anyway, and they don’t care whether you know it. The important thing is that in four tracks, ‘Rights’ has more activity, ideas and less naval-gazing than most. It is a spiky affair with bass, drums and guitar, all working in very close formation. Clear harmonics (as mentioned), compelling bass that often doubles (but never pointlessly) the guitar and drums that feel a bit like watching someone in a queue at a cheap airline check-in trying to force their entire wardrobe into a rucksack. It’s all awfully fraught, but from this comes a great tension and thrill. I can imagine the live performance would be much like the recorded. Practised, measured and calculated. Part of the threatening atmosphere of ‘Rights’ is how uncompromising it seems to be. Each instrument is being played just on the side of metal that jazzers will probably still accept.

I couldn’t get the thought out of my head of how much it reminded me of violin and drum two-piece, Hanged Up. There feels like a comparable thread of trying to cut the chewy edges of rock or jazz (or whatever genre vomit you want to pick from the press release… “experimental-avant-psych-minimal rock”… I visibly shudder). They don’t want the solos, don’t want the faff of hooks. There really isn’t even much lyricism or feeling, not much humanity. I don’t mean this in a bad way as sometimes you just want a record to feel a bit like being battered about the face by an over-engineered robot with metal chopsticks for fingers. ‘Rights’ is a crackling little ride of four tracks, each rising out of plinking metallic calmness to brutal climaxes. Highly recommended if, like me, you enjoy ruining your own dinner parties with “hard work” songs coming on your shuffle.

Thomas G.J. Sharpe