On February 3, 2023, ambitious multi-form music project Unquiet Music Ltd issues its second official album “MEMEmusic” on CD and download (via Bandcamp). The album is composed by JP Rossi, and produced by Markus Reuter (Stick Men, Reuter/Motzer/Grohowski, Anchor & Burden), crossing multiple boundaries between the electronic and the acoustic, between complexity and simplicity, between deep contemporary classical structures and textures and punchy art rock drive.
The first Unquiet Music Ltd album, 2020’s “In the Name of... (A Prayer for Our Times)” was an exploration of verticality and the arrow of time throughout a man’s life, or through mankind’s history. While in some respects “MEMEMusic” does act as a continuation of its predecessor, both in ideas and concept, it features a different approach and theme. Whereas “In the Name of...” was vertical, “MEMEmusic” is, in comparison, rather horizontal; and deals predominantly with communication and the notion of the individual. Reflecting on human interaction, and on how this has changed due to significant global changes and challenges over the past three years, it is firmly music for its time. The musical journey is divided in two parts, with the first half of the album being more industrial and electronic while the second turns towards live acoustic performances and to romantic and entertaining songs.
The central theme of “MEMEmusic” is the re-discovery of language - not the only tool with which we can connect to other people, but obviously one of the best - and to realize we are unique individuals precisely because differences exist. At the same time this profound but simple idea is delivered predominantly via music, which allows the listener to wander into their own universe without the weight of any message if they so wish. The cover and booklet also reflect the welcoming of diversity with their collaged images from photographs and paintings, plus AI techniques generated by Swiss multi-media artist Tobias Reber and comic book drawings and characters created by Denis Rodier (Marvel, DC, Milestone Media).
More accessible and reflective than “In the Name of…”, much of MEMEmusic is a conceptual effort based around instrumentals and some striking one-man choral composition. However, the album also diversifies from previous work in containing several stand-alone songs. These blend Rossi’s complex contemporary classical inspirations (fiercely building on and developing inspirations from Dmitri Shostakovich, Steve Reich and Philip Glass, and incorporating large-form ambient pieces and mediaeval-esque hocketing work) with influences from the boundary-crossing, thought-provoking art rock of David Bowie, King Crimson, David Sylvian and Stick Men. Also drifting through the mix are Cuban strings and trumpet, plus frequent and loving references to the languages and expression of the jazz tradition, with the spirits of Billie Holliday, George Gershwin, Ella Fitzgerald and Nelson Riddle finding their way into the string arrangements and some of the vocals. (See if you can also spot visitations from certain beloved jazz standards, adding their presence to the stew...)
While based around Rossi’s own vocal, keyboard and electronics work, “MEMEmusic” benefits from the participation of many talented international musicians. Continuing their work with the project alongside Rossi and Reuter are Frédéric L’Épée (Yang, Shylock, Philharmonie), Samira Brahmia, Raphaël Terreau, Khliff Miziallaoua, while the new album also welcomes fresh Unquiet Music contributors Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, King Crimson), Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson, Stick Men), Jon Poole (Cardiacs, Lifesigns, The Dowling Poole and The Wildhearts), Adrian Benavides (Earthdiver), Troy Jones and Thommy Lowry.