Thursday, 22 January 2015

New live album of epic cinematic electro-jazz from Tom Challenger's MA

I was recently listening to the band MA on youtube. They were a short-lived band that played a sort of spacey electro-jazz thing in 2011/2012. Their 2011 album 'The Last' was received well by critics (including five stars from BBC Music Magazine), and the band - Tom Challenger, Dave Smith, and Matt Calvert - toured for a couple of years after its release (the touring band occasionally included the addition of Ross Stanley on organ, and percussion from John Blease and Ben Bryant).

'Live' is a collection of recordings from this period. We are lucky that they went to the effort of making such high quality recordings of these gigs. Capturing live energy with accuracy is intensely difficult - especially when studio-type sounds are so integral to the composition - but this album from the years that followed 'The Last' accomplishes it perfectly.

I've banged on about how much I love Tom Challenger's Brass Mask band, and Fofoulah was in my recent post on West African music in London Jazz. 'Live' is yet another reflection of Challenger's kaleidoscopic creativity. This is an unmissable exploration of dubby cyber-jazz that should be part of any music lover's collection.

These tracks capture the collective cinematic imagination of the band. There's a hint of dated sci-fi about it, which I love. Take the closing track, 'The Last'. This is musical storytelling at its absolute finest: intense and arresting, disturbing and heartwarming:

'Live' is released on the 26th January (but you can buy it now if you want) and available from bandcamp (for the price of an HMV chart CD circa 2002 (thirteen quid), you can have both the live and studio albums) ...

MA's studio album: