While the world loves to compartmentalize and genrefy, there’s something gleeful about finding a musical experience that makes one scratch one’s head and wonder where things are headed. Enter Mörglbl (stylized as MÖRGLBL), the French genre-bending power trio that has been thrilling musical adventurers since the late ’90s, and puzzling less adventurous significant others for just as long. The threesome, comprised of guitarist Christophe Godin, bassist Ivan Rougny, and drummer Aurélien Ouzoulias has been dropping the jaws of audiences at festivals and on their own tours all around the world on a regular basis since 2007, after emerging from a self-imposed hiatus in the early ’00s, and is releasing their new album The Story of Scott Rötti, the anticipated follow-up to the wonderfully crunchy and silly 2015 album Tea Time for Punks.
Upon first listen, what’s most noticeable to returning fans is the band’s trademark humor isn’t nearly as prominent as it has been in the past, despite the album’s gloriously goofy cover art. There are some wacky and wonky guitar melodies to be heard here and there, and some vocalizations that are a little silly, but nothing quite as overt as the rockabilly moments strewn throughout the previous album, Tea Time for Punks. Rather, The Story of Scott Rötti surprisingly is a more conservative and cohesive effort than what we’ve heard from Mörglbl in the past. And that’s not to deride past achievements, because certainly their previous albums are all very musical and enjoyable, but the new offering seems less Zappa and more Planet X at times. The Story of Scott Rötti just seems to settle in nicely into genrefication a bit better than perhaps its predecessors have, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
At times that should please fans of bands like Animals As Leaders or Sithu Aye, guitars border on downright “djent”-y, and there are double kick grooves aplenty, but just as often, there are mellow moments with light ride work from Ouzoulias while Godin solos over top, resembling great guitar-driven instrumental acts such as the usual heavy hitters like Vai, Satch, and Hamm, but also newcomers Semantic Saturation. Then there are fusion inspired moments that should please fans of Tony MacAlpine‘s work with the aforementioned Planet X, but also his band with Bunny Brunel and Dennis Chambers, CAB. To put it plainly, fans of guitar shred and crunch should find plenty to enjoy here, with memorable melodies and respectable solos all throughout, supported by an incredibly tight rhythm section.
The lead single from the album, the second track “Anarchytektür” is a strong representation of what newcomers to Mörglbl can expect from the entire offering. Clocking in at about six minutes, it’s a nice appetizer sampler before the main course, and the video is worth checking out to see some fun live performance footage from the band. The rest of the album gets into a bit more exploratory composition than this song does, but “Anarchytekür” rocks, shreds, wails, and even features a bass solo! The verse of the song is also the most likely to please fans new to the band who want to hear similarities to the classic melodic guitarists like Greg Howe, Richie Kotzen, Vinnie Moore, even maybe Chris Poland.
The Story of Scott Rötti overall is a complete offering that works from song to song, and moment to moment with enough highs and lows to please listeners who still enjoy the full album experience. And for a power trio, the band fills the sonic spectrum tremendously well in the studio, always with nice touches like light arpeggios and chords from Godin supporting the soloing over top. Godin and Rougny always play off of each other well, too, whether playing in unison an octave removed from each other, or when one supports the other. Perhaps the band is maturing and making an effort to keep their albums tight and lean and full of the most important elements of the songs, as opposed to fun little quirky diversions, but the album is so straightforward when compared to a lot of their back catalogue, that some of those elements are missed. But again, the music contained within might surprise those who judge solely by the cover artwork. Admittedly, after giving the title track a number of spins, one can only wonder what the story of Scott Rötti (this band loves their “o umlauts,” don’t they?) truly is. Hit play and choose your own adventure.
Released By: Free Electric Sound
Release Date: February 1st, 2019
Genre: Jazz Metal
- Christophe Godin / Guitars
- Ivan Rougny / Bass
- Aurélien Ouzoulias / Drums
“The Story of Scott Rötti” Track-Listing:
1. 2 Flics Amis Amish
3. Les Légions du Rhum
4. Dark Vädim
5. Döner Dörgazm
6. La Lèpre à Elise
7. Crime Minister
8. Panzer Kökötier
9. Prog Töllog
10. The Story of Scott Rötti
11. Cor à Cor
Fiercely tight musicianship takes the listener on a fine journey. Though the tight songwriting and the especially electrifying lead guitar work are excellent, the album might feel a little too safe at times. But one listener's safe is another listener's boundary-pushing. The Story of Scott Rötti is definitely another fine entry into Mörglbl's already respectable discography.