The Great Game Experimental, Rock The Great Game Well, this is going to be a problem. I only have the ability to choose two genres and two countries for each review I do, and The Great Game is working on at least triple that in both categories. This is another of the ubiquitous 'music collective' projects that seem to be ruling the landscape nowadays, but the group's center character, Mounzer Sarraf already ticks two country boxes (Lebanese and Belgian) and goodness knows how many genres. Sarraf is a composer and classical guitarist by training, but the project is as multi-faceted as his imagination, which is to say the facets are endless. The way Mounzer Sarraf seems to like to work is to come up with the beginning of an idea and then put feelers out to all of his musician friends to see who can help him flesh it out. His compositional style seems to be one part classical, one part Frank Zappa and the rest mad scientist. He takes parts from all these other musicians and sews them together to create pieces which usually have a central theme but lots of ornamentation and experimentation along the way. He likes to call the result 'new world music,' but that's deceptive because it leaves out the hefty elements of alternative rock and experimentation which are in every song. When looking for contributors, it seems that for Sarraf the sky is the limit. He wants input from every style of music, every instrument and cultural tradition that he can find. On this debut self-titled album alone there is the rock influence, grunge, jazz, ska, experimental rock, Latin American music and European folk just for a start. He's not just looking for players but for musicians who can write and contribute new parts and structures to the skeleton pieces he comes up with. Saxophonist and Scottsman Martin Fell is the first musician Sarraf approached about the project, and will likely be one of the more consistent contributors as the two have been working together for for quite a while. Fell adds a Zappa-esque dollop of jazz fusion and dissonance to Sarraf's rock base in most of the songs on the album. Accomplished Belgian drummer Bruno Meeus plays a number of different drum styles for Sarraf's creations and cites Frank Zappa as one of his major influences as well. Manuel Saez Canton from Argentina brings the Latin and funk flare that can be heard on many of the tracks. There are a number of other artists who helped build these wild and wonderful creations for The Great Game, literally too many to mention. Trying to look at all of these different players, styles and traditions and how they can be turned into one cohesive piece can be difficult, so the best idea is to just get comfortable with the idea that cohesiveness isn't really The Great Game's style. 'Rock-based experimental cacophony' may be a better term than 'new world music,' or even 'music' at all. I'll try to describe some highlights to the album, and then really just listen. You'll either get it or you won't. 'Science' is the lead track on the album, and it quickly shows what listeners are in for with a discordant and electronic-sounding guitar playing a traditional classical European melody. Trumpets then enter the picture with experimental jazz. Sarraf's generally grungy vocals start off with politically charged lyrics to a folk tune and then move back and forth between spoken word and a kind of power ballad rock style. All this happens while jazz trumpets and Fell's saxophone layer over each other. Confused yet? The song changes styles, keys and tempos so many times it's hard to keep up, but the point and feeling of the song is definitely clearly portrayed. 'Bipolaroid' is in a tie for the best song on the album with 'Poetry in Motion.' The former track really goes for it with the 90s-era alternative rock, as Sarraf's vocals and guitars are gravely and grungy. The guitars vacillate between true grunge and a sort of metal-style riff. Saez Canton's bass brings a funk element, while the jazz fusion sax from Fell here adds an unexpected and fresh element to 'Bipolaroid.' 'Poetry in Motion' has the same tone to Sarraf's guitar as in 'Science.' Saez Canton's influence is felt even more on this track as guitar, bass and drums all have a fast, syncopated Latin feel to them. The horns on this track mix with the Latin-flavoured backing track to create a surprising ska feel. Vocalist Inbal Rosenblat also has a bit of a ska and jazz tinge to her voice, but it's also bell-clear and well-pitched and somehow creates another layer of alternative rock to compliment Sarraf's guitar. If my descriptions sound a bit frenetic and make no sense, that is because it's very difficult to describe this musical melting pot that Sarraf has created. I've spent about 900 words trying to elucidate, but the best thing to do is just to listen. The feelings and textures created by this musical melange will more than speak for themselves. The album is available to stream on Soundcloud, but may I recommend the free download on The Great Game's website? Rather than paying directly for the album, Sarraf asks that fans contribute to the band's ongoing Indiegogo campaign so he and his talented friends can continue doing 'whatever the hell this is' that they do so well. 450
Brutal Resonance

The Great Game - The Great Game

7.5
"Good"
Spotify
Released off label 2015
Well, this is going to be a problem. I only have the ability to choose two genres and two countries for each review I do, and The Great Game is working on at least triple that in both categories. This is another of the ubiquitous 'music collective' projects that seem to be ruling the landscape nowadays, but the group's center character, Mounzer Sarraf already ticks two country boxes (Lebanese and Belgian) and goodness knows how many genres. Sarraf is a composer and classical guitarist by training, but the project is as multi-faceted as his imagination, which is to say the facets are endless.

The way Mounzer Sarraf seems to like to work is to come up with the beginning of an idea and then put feelers out to all of his musician friends to see who can help him flesh it out. His compositional style seems to be one part classical, one part Frank Zappa and the rest mad scientist. He takes parts from all these other musicians and sews them together to create pieces which usually have a central theme but lots of ornamentation and experimentation along the way. He likes to call the result 'new world music,' but that's deceptive because it leaves out the hefty elements of alternative rock and experimentation which are in every song.

When looking for contributors, it seems that for Sarraf the sky is the limit. He wants input from every style of music, every instrument and cultural tradition that he can find. On this debut self-titled album alone there is the rock influence, grunge, jazz, ska, experimental rock, Latin American music and European folk just for a start. He's not just looking for players but for musicians who can write and contribute new parts and structures to the skeleton pieces he comes up with.

Saxophonist and Scottsman Martin Fell is the first musician Sarraf approached about the project, and will likely be one of the more consistent contributors as the two have been working together for for quite a while. Fell adds a Zappa-esque dollop of jazz fusion and dissonance to Sarraf's rock base in most of the songs on the album. Accomplished Belgian drummer Bruno Meeus plays a number of different drum styles for Sarraf's creations and cites Frank Zappa as one of his major influences as well. Manuel Saez Canton from Argentina brings the Latin and funk flare that can be heard on many of the tracks. There are a number of other artists who helped build these wild and wonderful creations for The Great Game, literally too many to mention.

Trying to look at all of these different players, styles and traditions and how they can be turned into one cohesive piece can be difficult, so the best idea is to just get comfortable with the idea that cohesiveness isn't really The Great Game's style. 'Rock-based experimental cacophony' may be a better term than 'new world music,' or even 'music' at all. I'll try to describe some highlights to the album, and then really just listen. You'll either get it or you won't.

'Science' is the lead track on the album, and it quickly shows what listeners are in for with a discordant and electronic-sounding guitar playing a traditional classical European melody. Trumpets then enter the picture with experimental jazz. Sarraf's generally grungy vocals start off with politically charged lyrics to a folk tune and then move back and forth between spoken word and a kind of power ballad rock style. All this happens while jazz trumpets and Fell's saxophone layer over each other. Confused yet? The song changes styles, keys and tempos so many times it's hard to keep up, but the point and feeling of the song is definitely clearly portrayed.

'Bipolaroid' is in a tie for the best song on the album with 'Poetry in Motion.' The former track really goes for it with the 90s-era alternative rock, as Sarraf's vocals and guitars are gravely and grungy. The guitars vacillate between true grunge and a sort of metal-style riff. Saez Canton's bass brings a funk element, while the jazz fusion sax from Fell here adds an unexpected and fresh element to 'Bipolaroid.' 'Poetry in Motion' has the same tone to Sarraf's guitar as in 'Science.' Saez Canton's influence is felt even more on this track as guitar, bass and drums all have a fast, syncopated Latin feel to them. The horns on this track mix with the Latin-flavoured backing track to create a surprising ska feel. Vocalist Inbal Rosenblat also has a bit of a ska and jazz tinge to her voice, but it's also bell-clear and well-pitched and somehow creates another layer of alternative rock to compliment Sarraf's guitar.

If my descriptions sound a bit frenetic and make no sense, that is because it's very difficult to describe this musical melting pot that Sarraf has created. I've spent about 900 words trying to elucidate, but the best thing to do is just to listen. The feelings and textures created by this musical melange will more than speak for themselves. The album is available to stream on Soundcloud, but may I recommend the free download on The Great Game's website? Rather than paying directly for the album, Sarraf asks that fans contribute to the band's ongoing Indiegogo campaign so he and his talented friends can continue doing 'whatever the hell this is' that they do so well.
Apr 01 2015

Off label

Official release released by the artist themselves without the backing of a label.

Layla Marino

info@brutalresonance.com
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance

Share this review

Facebook
Twitter
Google+
15
Shares

Buy this release

indiegogo

Related articles

Mechatronic - 'Dystopia'

Review, Sep 12 2014

Extra Terra - 'PROJEKT 2077'

Review, Nov 30 2020

Denial Waits - 'Noirbox'

Review, Jul 13 2021

ALT-G - 'Propaganda'

Review, Feb 17 2012

Shortly about us

Started in spring 2009, Brutal Resonance quickly grew from a Swedish based netzine into an established International zine of the highest standard.

We cover genres like Synthpop, EBM, Industrial, Dark Ambient, Neofolk, Darkwave, Noise and all their sub- and similar genres.

© Brutal Resonance 2009-2016
Designed by and developed by Head of Mímir 2016