Megashira At Last

When drum & bass is retrofitted with jazz elements there's always a danger that braininess will strangle the flow. Megashira's At Last offers the best possible answer to that conundrum. Megashira are Kabuki (Jan Henning) and Mainframe (Frank Marheineke), a couple of Teutonic studio whizzes responsible for releasing the first German drum & bass album back in '97. Like many of their ilk, they're studio sluts, in fact, Kabuki spends much of the year in Japan recording scores for Playstation games. At Last represents Megashira's sophomore release, the follow up to 1997's Zero Hour. Rock solid grooves are the sediment through which jazz chords, progressions and more adventurous time signatures are explored. Every sound on the album was created by human beings (like Jazz Passenger vibe-man, Bill Ware III) often playing archaic instruments and recorded using original '60s gear (including a Helios mixer used by the Who). Yet, almost none of the musicians met face to face, every instrument (drums, keys, percussion, bass and vibes) was recorded separately. The pieces were then pasted together in Germany, on computers and with much digital fuckery and quantising. There is, however, no debating that the results are tasty! Drum & bass backbones are fleshed out and made more complex with jazz flavours. Unusual time signatures are explored on tracks like "Time Tunnel," which is in 31/16 metre, and standout cut "When Worlds Collide," which is in 9/4 time, and played in a Phrygian mode (a mode is like a scale, parts of Miles Davis's Sketches Of Spain uses a Spanish Phrygian scale). But don't let all that crazy, egghead, jazz algebra scare you off, this isn't a platter strictly for nerdy Mensa dance parties. At Last isn't buried under its sophistication, it basks in it. It's refined and urbane but not at the expense of its stone soul groove. At Last would be just as at home in the collection of a breakbeat, jazz-funk, drum & bass, or dub fan. Wunderbar! (INFRACom!)