Equally Stupid, a band of compadres, that feature three like-minded gents from varying backgrounds, again come together to continue their journey of musical exploration. Building on the ideals of their previous album, Exploding Head (2014), they have expanded their musical palate just enough, while still keeping the core musical direction. Still integral to their sound is Rögnvaldsson’s biting guitar and saxophonist Pauli Lyytinen’s unique tone, all bound together by David Meier’s muscularity and textures on the drums, the group three years later show its a group sound, in a different light.
Escape from The Unhappy Society is more melodic and spacious, less of a romping affair with an affinity to melody and lyricism. “Fools Paradise” offers textures with lilting sax phrasing and deeper rhythms by the guitarist Rögnvaldsson which I might add is the unusual sound of baritone guitar, lending a darker sound to the overall appreciated swells. Accompanied by Meirs’ gentle brushed percussion one immediately realizes the groups continued evolution as group sound.
Where their first outing was brash, edgy and in your face, this offering is a more measured and a polished sound, offering the listener an alternative look at the ever-evolving ensemble. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of muscularity, angularity and the interaction between Rögnvaldsson and Lyytinen still gives their original fan base plenty of meat to chew on, as best exhibited on “Paranoia.” The riffing sax and driving guitar weave through and around each other like a childlike chase before embarking on a lyrical solo, then reverting to the romp and play of the intro approach.
A completely playful approach, it is refreshingly good-natured, and all about the art of the music. These three young emerging Europeans have the right approach. The prowess is there and certainly at their fingertips when needed, but also the humanness of their music shines through, keeping it an organic experience that is polished, but not so much that it makes it a sterile listen like so many jazz CDs on the market today. I have always liked my jazz a bit dirty rice and beans, and this fits the bill.