Released in 2004 Time is the second album by fusion band 7for 4 from Munich, Germany and consolidated their design of amalgamating multiple combinations of styles within each composition. Various abstract themes of Time are explored here both musically and conceptually in each piece. Why this band hasn’t sparked more acclaim internationally is beyond my belief. Apart from a short tour of Japan in 2013 this incredible band seems to have been recognized only in Europe, Japan and parts of South America which just leaves me scratching my head befuddled and baffled. There are enough musical genres crammed into this fusion meltdown to sink the Bismark man! Straight hard rock, pop female vocals, prog-rock pomp , tinges of latino and tongue-in-cheek country with the the ghosts of Bach and Django Reinhardt showing up when they feel like it. The only thing that seems to be missing here is the kitchen sink! I would go as far to say that in many respects 7for 4 are far superior to any band that they can be compared to because of the multi-fariousness of each individual track. Having released only 3 albums since 2001 what they lack in prolificity they make up in musical prowess. Having come from different musical backgrounds ( classical, hard rock & straight jazz ) the level of musical proficiency displayed by the individual players in 7for 4 is what makes this band beyond reproach.
The creative scope of the mastermind behind this brainchild, guitarist/composer/music educator Wolfgang Zenk ( ex-Sieges Even ) seems to know no bounds, embodying multiple musical disciplines that also reflect his scientific background in mathematics and physics. No three chord strumming in the slack key of G major here. Each intricate track is constantly shifting and morphs itself into different musical creatures as it progresses. As the band’s name suggests expect insane time signatures, tempos, changes and demented speed of light guitar solos. It’s not all freakout though. There are also more delicate moments that remind me remotely of early seventies compositions from the Dutch band Focus and Zenk often sounds like guitarist Jan Akkerman with his unconventional phrasings. But then again he can sound like anybody, from Al Di Meola to Steve Vai during various passages on this musically diverse and contrasting album. But it’s not a go nuts Wolfgang album by any stretch. It is a quantum effect of all the band members.
There are no real standout tracks on Time and the album should be regarded as a sum of all it’s parts and reflect, musically the passage of time in one sense or another. There are definitely odd suprises along the way nonetheless. Burnt Chicken Wings will immediately draw comparisons to Dixie Dregs’ 70’s southern jazz/rock blending and is the least “serious “ track on the album even though it maintains the musical intricacy displayed throughout the album. The other orphan track, Where Are You Now, is a vocal number that features the vocal power of Conny Kreitmeier from the hard rock girl band Daisy Ultra ( also from Munich ). Fluctuating between a hard rock ballad and pop song it could even had made it into the top forty if it was marketed wisely! TempERAmento with it’s latino tinges, the metallic Perpetuum Mobile and Flux Capacitor are the emblematic tracks on the work with all players demonstrating their extraordinary musical facilities. All are fast, precise and intricate and should satisfy those into Liquid Tension Experiment, Planet X or Spaced Out from Canada but as mentioned earlier I find the 7for 4 compositions more calculated, thought out, methodical and dynamic with more emphasis on composition rather than showboating ( although there is plenty of it). My favourite track on the album is the frantic Rock ‘n’ Rolex. It’s insane tempo and changes sort of conjures up all sorts of transcendental images of how fast time can elapse. Picture one of those compressed video exposures of a city during rush hour.
These explosive tracks are interspersed with more lucid compositions starting with the album opener 7eitgiest, a play on the philosophical German phrase word “zeitgeist ”, meaning spirit of the times. It features a cool melody from bass player Markus Grutzner and Zenk’s perplexing guitar playing which sets the mood for the whole album. Time Chapters I & II are more thoughtful orchestral and prog-rock sounding pieces and offer a break from the mania of the rest of the compositions . 7:44 am is much along the same lines and it includes acoustic passages missing from much of the other work here and is titled for it’s running time of 7:44 as well as referencing the band’s unusual name ( it also could have been composed at 7:44 AM ). Who knows with these guys. The album is concluded with a short tempered piece appropriately entitled Slow (e)Motion. I only wish they could have extended it beyond the 1:51 running time.
The two other albums that bookend this jewel, Contact ( 2001 ) and Diffusion ( 2008 ) are equally as impressive. Another album is in the works for 2014 and if you haven’t checked out the atypical fusions of 7for 4 then it’s a must.
1. Zeitgeist (4:45)
2. TempERAmento (5:10)
3. Where Are You Now (7:46)
4. 7:44 a.m. (5:26)
5. Time (Chapter I) (5:32)
6. Rock’n'Rolex (5:07)
7. Perpetuum Mobile (5:57)
8. Time (Chapter II) (4:06)
9. Flux Capacitor (6:33)
10. Burnt Chicken Wings (6:05)
11. Slow [e]Motion (1:55)
* Wolfgang Zenk – guitars
* Markus Grutzner – bass
* Klaus Engel – drums
* Markus Froschmeier – keyboards
* Conny Kreitmeier – vocals on 4