Those of you who have seen Quantum of Solace, the latest James Bond film, will know that it drops the unsuspecting viewer slap-bang in the middle of a frenetic action sequence. Kriss's No.Mad does the same to the innocent listener. Press "play" and you're plunged into Adventures in Jax, a dose of bass-heavy, all-enveloping, minimal-ish house in which Kriss favours build-ups over breakdowns only to discard them suddenly, thus increasing the groove, if you get my drift. It's relentless and cooler than anything else - just like 007.
After that comes Undersun, the loudest musical element of which is a rasping hi-hat that batters the track into submission until halfway in, when swooping strings, electro eruptions and a massive trumpet stab arrive to add movement, tonal variety and pelvic gyrations. It took a few plays to get into this, but now when I listen to Undersun I seem to lose nine(!) minutes from my day. It's sneakily hypnotic.
All you'll get from the third track, Jazz Club, is a jazz piano workout pushed along by nothing more than a kick drum, hi-hat, bass and an occasional drum roll. In other words, it's standard 1950s jazz, except that the modern kick and bass have hitched a ride in the Tardis and transformed a swinging jazz session into a dance track that skips along very pleasantly. Snippets of conversation intrude and reinforce the party atmosphere. A snare drum joins in near the end - hey, it's traditional: even a classically trained pianist like Kriss can't resist the pull of the four to the floor. Apart from being righteously funky, it's also the EP's shortest track and so gets the honour of having a little triangle planted in front of it:
Still interested? Check out Check In and you'll find an understated groover with a breakdown courtesy of an airport tannoy announcement. Like most things to do with airports it takes a little too long, but it's still a decent listen that gave me the opportunity to write "tannoy".
The final effort, Stereophonic Sound, is a slow-starter that threatens to be the runt of the musical litter until Kriss uses running water as an instrument (electronica never lets you down, does it?) and essays some swirling synths and sundry reverberating noises. Defying the po-faced voiceover, Stereophonic Sound becomes a hip-swinger. Play this loud and watch your granny bust a move. Or her hip.
No.Mad validates CTW's First Law of Dance Music: all dance tracks are a third too long. The trouble is, once you become familiar with the album's five tracks, time passes rather quickly in a theory-of-relativity kind of way, undermining my mathematical construct concerning music that ventures above 120 beats per minute. The sooner CERN gets fixed, the better; Science is laughing in my face. Luckily, I can't hear Science because I'm listening to this thumpingly good EP.
It's the festive season, in case you haven't noticed. Kriss (A.K.A. Bari native Cristian Pugliese), the owner of Undercut Records, is probably not expecting any reward for his free musical efforts, other than an emailed grazie. But if you adore No.Mad, give a thought to pressing his Paypal button and sending him something of good cheer.
All that remains is to wish my millions of readers a very merry Krissmas.
Kriss - No.Mad (link to individual files and zipped album)
Kriss on MySpace (the video to Jazz Club will raise a smile)
Unfoundsoundrecords (from Philly, baby)