Hypercolor (Tzadik, 2015) – Heavy funk fusion trio


Hypercolor is a trio with Lukas Ligeti (drums), James Ilgenfritz (bass), and Eyal Maoz (guitar). From Austria, of Hungarian parents, Ligeti came into the New York scene through John Zorn. As you find in Zorn, you find a crazy eclecticism in Ligeti’s projects, with edgy flavors and international strains. But Zorn didn’t have Gyorgi Ligeti, post-war avant-garde avatar, as a father, who invented systems where opposing melodies and rhythms cancelled each other out in his new music compositions, but always executed with the light delicacy of folk music.

Hypercolor is a power trio, opposing individual styles like a particle smasher. But it is not cut-and-paste. Ligeti goes to sources. A primary one is polymetric African drumming, where different rhythmic cycles run against each other concurrently. The differing stylistic elements in Hypercolor likewise work together in one process, without the abrupt dislocation of channel switching.

Hypercolor is basically heavy funk fusion. The play on “Living Colour” is patent, and the group similarly throws up a knowing, intellectual take on a kind of dance music, music with a groove, that moves the people. There are sly introductions of modern rock themes, as in one track where Maoz plays on the Nirvana “In Bloom” guitar line, “He knows not what it means…” But Ligeti is also a giant Tony Williams fan, and he goes back to the source of the source, the source of Miles Davis, Tony Williams’ Lifetime, from which Davis hijacked the members of his electric band.

I have played this album over and over again, and I’m still playing it. Like the best jazz, it has a smooth patina, something you can hear at a nightclub and still enjoy your drink, but with the deep beauty of foreign lands, taking you to indigenous intellectual traditions, where secrets are unraveled, secrets to the key of human creativity.