Marco Minnemann – EEPS (2014)

EEPS begins, as expected, with a torrent of rhythm — utterly in keeping with the idea of a drummer stepping out with his own recording. Then Marco Minnemann begins adding splashes of sounds. Guitar shavings. Keyboard coughs. Firefly riffs. A synth’s insistent red wail. In those first few moments, as “Cheap as Fuck and Awesome as Hell” conclude, Minnemann has shattered whatever preconceived notions you might have had, if you only knew him as the guy behind the kit with Steven Wilson and Mike Keneally.

After all, every one of those crazy-cool stabs, scronks and shoves comes courtesy of Minnemann, a multi-instrumentalist who makes a living at the drums but one who has plenty more to say once he leaves those sidemen gigs.

I don’t mean to intimate that EEPS doesn’t crackle with inventive cadences, from the found-object undulations of Minnemann’s title track here to the Tourette-like stutter of “Right On Time And Out Of Tune” to the free-jazz fury of “Dead Ghost.” It’s just clear, as this album unfolds, how limiting it is to think of him in those terms alone. Minnemann is, in no small way, as inventive — as free and as genre-bustingly open — on every other instrument at his disposal. Even when he takes the mic for vocal showcases like “OC DC” and “When I Was Gone,” he mixes and matches attitude and approach, sounding like a new wave nihlist one moment and a roaring metal aggressor the next.

It gives Minnemann an incredibly broad palette from which to paint, one with an almost endless horizon. Time signatures are pulled like taffy, song structures smashed to bits. Sounds swoop in like hungry ravenous condors, leaving stark spaces to fill with a guitar’s grinding portent, a heavily processed blurt, a keyboard wash. And, yet, there is an unerring sense of narrative heft through EEPS, this sense that the songs (even with every convention laying in tatters around Minnemann) know where they’re headed — even if, sometimes, you couldn’t possibly guess.

Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.