The program notes accurately that "Survey" is a collection of original compositions mostly by Matthias Ockert that consist of scraps of electronica, rock and new music united by jazz improvisations. The resultant album is diverse enough but doesn’t dig nearly deep enough into each of the tracks to come up with something that is consistently compelling or particularly innovative. Nevertheless, the band handles the genres well and that’s a promising start.
The initial track, ‘J.E.S.,’ starts out blazing and smoking in a fusion form, leaning towards a jabberwocky of more rock than jazz. ‘White Sky Choral’ is reminiscent of a preamble to a Blood, Sweat & Tears song that instead of the expectant vocals to surface just fades away. Despite an intriguing beginning, ‘2002’ eventually sounds like an instrumental Chicago Transit Authority circa 1973.
The restrained ‘Canope’ relies on sensibility of the blues and as a result is both earthy and elegant. The interaction between the Ockert brothers is moving and nearly telepathic. The simple form reveals the band’s more complex abilities. It is finely executed. The title track, ‘Survey,’ is a haunting search through passages of an intricate maze that leads back to where one started. ‘Wet Sun Waltz’ is a curious title because it is less a sunny dance, than a cloudy rumination. The horn and guitar work and its overall synchronization are methodical and swaying. It moves in its own sleek and urbane way.
Matthias Ockert and his band are clearly on to something. If they push themselves further and focus on the beauty and depth of what music can be, this band will be a revelation.