FACING Silvan Strauss
- 1THE SNAKE01:17
- 3THE GOOD HOUSE02:31
- 4STARTING TO SMILE02:34
Info for FACING
Hamburg-based drummer/composer, Silvan Strauss flips crunchy Madlib-soaked beats with hazed-out contemporary jazz on debut album Facing, forthcoming on artist/producer Farhot’s label, Kabul Fire this November 2022.
Featuring UK jazz luminary, Joe Armon-Jones (Ezra Collective, Nubya Garcia) and a medley of Hamburg’s most exciting new jazz talent, Strauss’s Facing connects the dots between Badbadnotgood, Yussef Dayes and Kiefer across ten finessed, lo-fi beatscapes and experimental, jazz rooted electronic
Raised on a diet of German radio big bands, punk rock and classic golden-age hip-hop albums, Strauss’s journey from budding session drummer to the latest newcomer into a thriving, global roster of jazz agitators is one of discovery and community. Born in Kempten, southern Germany, Strauss as a toddler played drums on anything he could get his hands on. In between rehearsals with the Bavarian State Youth Jazz Orchestra, Strauss would make beats, jumping between punk and hip-hop bands at school up until graduation, before moving north to study at Hamburg’s University of Music. Regular stints as a sideman performing with Portuguese vocalist Maria João and trombonist Nils Landgren soon followed (continuing to this day), and alongside his work in jazz/neo-soul quartet ToyToy, it was his immersion in Hamburg’s live music circuit that led him to being voted 2021 Hamburg Jazz Prize winner, a prestigious accolade in the city awarded by fellow musicians, laying the brickwork for Strauss’s debut collection.
Searching for a creative spark during lockdown, Strauss compiled an archive of 2-3min drum takes recorded from his home studio, embracing his love of Brazilian MPB, Herbie Hancock, Mel Lewis and Chris Dave and The Drumhedz, before sending the drum stems to friends, close collaborators and instrumentalists to experiment and riff over, unlocking a method that fused Strauss’s love of lo-fi beats aesthetics and jazz/live arranging. Some back and forth between its total of fifteen musicians/collaborators and executive curation from fellow Hamburg-based creator/producer and label founder, Farhot, and Facing was born.
“Recording two tracks with Farhot on his Kabul Fire Vol.2 album was a spark for me. Seeing him use live drums but bringing them into his beat world was inspiring. It clicked I can bring these two worlds together. I want to give people my drums and let people express themselves. Two things I love to do is play drums and connect people. That’s what I do and what I want to do my whole life”
Grizzly, distorted synths reminiscent of early Floating Points 12”s open proceedings on The Snake, its pre-quantized snare slap could cut metal, whilst the drum and bass-infused Bubba saunters across dancehall rhythms and jazz virtuosity tipping its hat to UK counterparts, Moses Boyd and Yussef Dayes. On album first single, Strauss’s classic 90s hip-hop beat signposts dub reggae studio processing, and New York-inspired, Gil Evans-esque frontline horns, arranged by flautist/ tenor saxophonist Adrian Hanack, and featuring UK trumpeter Percy Pursglove (Bill Frissell, Evan Parker), it’s light and orchestral production felt throughout. Detroit beat-tech x Afrobeat follows on the Tony Allen-inspired Teeth, where gentle hand percussion nestles between sultry grooves whilst on filmic “new Ocean’s Eleven soundtrack” Starting To Smile, Strauss’s laid back take pays tribute to old soul and Bernard Purdie arrangements. South London jazz innovator, Joe Armon-Jones features on Eyes, bringing his distinct keys wizardry and production, to Strauss’s Brazilian Maracatu-referencing polyrhythms, riding alongside reggae producer/engineer Umberto Echo’s dub FX and kettle drum thrums.
Across its ten tracks, Facing is full of intricate patterns, tricky time signatures and complex stylistic fusions but here lies the talent at hand, it sounds fun, light and accessible. Incisively focused on the listener, never over-playing, Strauss’s Facing is a coherent and balanced debut album that throughout its 22 minutes never loses sight of the end goal; A rare success for a debut album.
“I wanted to make it so that people love to listen to it. It’s a little wonky, sure a few imperfections but fuck it, it’s fun and alive!”
Hamburg based producer and drummer Silvan Strauss counts as one of the outstanding new European jazz drummers who can easily shapeshift between jazz and its varieties ranging into urban contemporary music. In the last years he successfully worked with the likes of Maria João, Soweto Kinch, Omer Klein, Guinga, Farhot, Jazzrausch Bigband, Nils Landgren, Till Brönner. Strauss channels the immense input gained by all the different collaborations into his own project Toytoy where he produces and closely works with his band mates on their vision of experimental groove music. Recently awarded with the Hamburg Jazz Award Strauss finally takes the step towards releasing his very own solo-project “Facing” – it’s title paying tribute to the extraordinary mimics that many drummers share. Curated alongside Kabul Fire Records founder Farhot this instrumental album in hiphop/urban jazz fashion complements KFR-Releases in a very special way as Strauss represents the organic and analogue side of beatmaking.
This album contains no booklet.