Brainchild of Huran Demiraslan (guitarist and keyboard player for French death metallers Trepalium) and Florent Marcadet (drummer for experimental psyche metallers Klone). Initially spawned out of the pair’s mutual appreciation of Meshuggah, jazz, funk, African rhythms and experimentation within the limits of rock and metal, the two would go on to jam with each other for a number of years before in 2009 deciding to take this jam project and make a band around its ideas.
Step In Fluid was born, picking up the remaining members of mutual friends and fellow experimenters throughout the year before the project began to fully take form with the help of producer Fabien Guilloteau. The culmination of all this work being their debut album One Step Beyond, which sees itself getting its worldwide release this week.
Take one melting pot, pour in an extreme metal past and a penchant for Meshuggah, then lovingly add a large lump of Funk, sprinkle in some cuttings of Jazz and a little dash of fusion. Stir and bring to boil. At this point very liberally add a splash of hip hop and some shavings of groove. Stir further and allow to simmer for a few minutes. Once ready, take your precooked Jam Riffs from the oven and add to the pot, then serve.
In a roundabout way, right there I’ve described the album for you, but clearly I’m no chef and this is a music review, but given all the elements and influences on display, alongside a certain level of pretence, this broth could go to shit, but it doesn’t. Instead what you get is an experimental album that’s jam heavy, but it’s organised, composed, arranged so as it never feels like self indulgent noodling. A notable downfall of a lot of anything that’s labelled with experimental/jazz/funk.
No, what we have here is instrumental ‘songs.’ Sure they’re jam based and were no doubt born of jams but there’s composure, there’s riffs, there’s hooks, there’s grooves, there’s rise, there’s fall and there’s variation, and what there isn’t is freeform meandering.
Don’t get me wrong if you’re not interested in instrumental music then this isn’t going to be your bag (baby), and there’s no point pretending otherwise. However if you are a genuine enthusiast of alternative and experimental metal and rock, or funk or modern jazz, I genuinely find it hard to believe you won’t find something you’ll enjoy and take away with you from this album.
Whether it’s the heavier riffs that bring to mind would Tool would sound like if they didn’t take themselves so seriously and remembered how to groove for pleasure, the occasionally sludgy guitar tone akin to Melvins, the funk metal aspects that come across somewhere between a more jam friendly Faith No More and a more reigned in The Mars Volta. The hip hop influence is perhaps a little over sold, however the little turntable breaks and samples that sneak in here and there do raise a smile, and perhaps most noteworthy for hip hop inclination would be the interlude (I know they’re all instrumentals but this feels like an interlude) track Dead End which could almost be an old-skool G Funk backing track.
Upon listening to the album, you can’t help but be aware of an air of silliness, and whether intentional or not, I think this album is all the better for it; it sounds fun. You don’t have to sit there pondering the complexities of it all, you can just enjoy it, and better still the tracks don’t over stay their welcome. Don’t get me wrong, I like long tracks, I fucking love post rock, drone and doom, but with your more jam friendly bands there’s the tendency to just solo until tomorrow. Everything here seems necessary.
First listen of this album I flickered back and forth between laughing and uttering aloud ‘this is cool as fuck.’ Eloquent as that analysis is, what more could you want from an album? Rarer still, an instrumental album that can make you smile. I challenge you to listen to this album and not crack at least one smile and think at least one riff or groove isn’t cool.