Andreas Schaerer and Kalle Kalima, with Tim Lefebvre – Evolution

Andreas Schaerer and Kalle Kalima, with Tim Lefebvre – Evolution



Here's an album of eleven new songs by Swiss vocal acrobat Andreas Schaerer and Finnish guitarist Kalle Kalima, accompanied by electric and acoustic bass from Tim Lefebvre.

The music fuses exotica, jazz and prog rock and in these hands it's a great combination.  Vocal lines have a compelling "stream of consciousness" feel and because of Schaerer's skill this sounds spontaneous and exploratory but never random. The impression is of songs developed through improvisation rather than improvisation on a preset song form.

Serpentine melodies and twisting chord sequences often recall Jeff Buckley, Tori Amos or Pink Floyd. Multi-tracked electric guitar orchestrations offer a warm palette of sounds include chiming harmonics, fuzzy sustains and lightly distorted slide guitar with volume pedal. "Rapid eye movements" opens the album with a dark lyric about mental surveillance. Gradually the listener realises that the ambient "electronic" sounds in the mix are produced by the singer's extended vocal techniques. "Trigger" is downright spooky with a falsetto vocal, steel guitar effects and bowed bass - or is it distorted guitar?

There's plenty of sonic mystery and often the songs build from a quiet start to a ferocious climax. I loved the unruly lyrics, which draw the listener into repeated listening; three of these are in fact by Kalima's wife Essi. For example "Trigger" includes lines like:

"The picture shows the traps around expanding galaxies. All figures set. The trigger’s on. Our mission yet is still undone, while drunken lions eat their haunted dreams".

"Slo-mo" offers rhythmically complex guitar lines over driving bass guitar and multi-timbral vocal percussion. There's also ghostly whistling on "So far" leading to a floating wordless vocal. "Multitasking" is a duet for voice and guitar, but vocal percussion and "mouth trumpet" offer restless variety and comedic colours. A conversational double bass solo leads into "Piercing love" with a surrealistic lyric which may be about an abusive relationship, where mouth trumpet and a weightless vocal combine to evoke Chet Baker both with and without a horn.

"Sphere" is a perfectly formed and haunting ballad, full of modal shifts. It takes a few listens before the songs begin to make sense but the album is beautifully performed and recorded and well worth exploring.

© Stephen Godsall


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