Had I not known the previous (impressive) works of both Jeff Gburek and A.J. Kaufmann, I would have happily believed that this was a lost psychedelic music gem long forgotten about in a basement studio recorded during Soviet times. While the tones are dulcet, you never really get a chance to get into a groove. The music shapes and shifts, making you ever aware of its presence and demanding that you pay attention (particularly hard to do as I’m grading papers at the moment). The introduction to the album at Ramble Records’ Bandcamp site is one of the most elegant I’ve read in a while:
“JazzIsthmus is the spontaneous nomination of a surreal podcast from two dolphins once swimming the lochs of Berlin un-bump-into-able until another quasi-human life incarnation, in nearby Poznan, where they skimmed palms at some music event in 2016, realized they bore the stigmata of guitarism and poetry. Their various hermetic preoccupations kept them adrift until the Man from Atlantis & his Ramble Records began to publish their solo projects independently. Sharing a label caused Jeff Gburek and A.J. Kaufmann to push their tables together, jam a bit, swap sounds and begin the collaboration that you can witness with a few clicks.
There’s more than guitar going into this mistura. First track bears psychedelic jazz ceremonial organ, careening space-cadet theremin glissandi, spiced guitar shards. Track two features Jeff’s soundscaping hydrophone recordings, VLF receiver, radios & Adam’s minimal ghostly tricky synth-like guitars. Thirdly comes Doof Tram, the very first live meeting, which remains exactly as it was recorded (except for the parts we changed, of course). Like Jerry Garcia meets Bern Nix. Gratefully Undead for this Halloween 2023. Further on down the road there’s some real synth and, you guessed it, more guitars. Meandering, nimble, somewhat melancholy at times. This is just a description, not a review.”