The album is named for a sci-fi novel involving five-dimensional cubes and time travel, and the cover art features the musicians wearing helmets that suggest they’re either prepping for a motorcycle rally in 2049 or mocking Daft Punk. But the music on Oofth, the debut record from Italian tenor saxophonist Massimiliano Milesi’s quartet, is very much of the present. With Emanuele Maniscalco on Wurlitzer electric piano and synthesizers, Giacomo Papetti on electric bass, and Filippo Sala on drums, Milesi has feet in both acoustic and electric realms, and in both jazz and rock.
Despite the futuristic posturing, the seven tracks on Oofth aren’t that stylistically different from what many of Milesi’s peers are doing these days. Electronics color the aesthetic, and beats are derived from modern dance music. A synth burbles and a sheen of white noise cascades over “Doppler” after its childlike lullaby abruptly halts. Krautrock bands were doing this 50 years ago, around the same time Miles Davis was making jazz safe for distorted electric pianos. But if Milesi’s aesthetic isn’t as groundbreaking as the album’s trappings suggest, he does have his vision.