Sunday, 29 March 2015

Listen: Loop Collective Live at the Oxford

Atmospheric bootlegs, stunningly immortalised by trumpeter/engineer Alex Bonney. Very grateful. The gig saw drummer Dave Smith (Fofoulah, Robert Plant) putting together a lineup that brought back Robin Fincker (who works mainly outta France these days) alongside the aforementioned Bonney and London-scene wide-boys Tom Challenger and Dan Nicholls. The result is kind of like peering directly into my memories of going up the stairs to an Outhouse gig at the Oxford when I first moved to London. And then having that directed by David Lynch: Living, breathing, improvised music; sly, spacious and surreal.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Embla - Teleport EP

Trip-folk electrothoughts for lovers of Snowpoet and Native Dancer - this new EP from Embla is spacey and sweet, somewhere on that line between alternative pop and improvised music.

London based 4-piece Embla are Emilia Mårtensson (whom you may know from the MOBO winning Kairos 4tet), Rory Simmons (Brass Mask, Jamie Cullum), Native Dancer's Jonathan Harvey, and Vula Viel's Dave De Rose.

Non-ironic synths, driving percussion, vocal lines that dance in the air. The ethereal layers of Simmons' trumpet really give this EP a unique sound, and the songcraft really suits this alien sonic environment that the four of them have created. Dave De Rose mixed the Native Dancer EP too, and the style is here - it's more airy than the Native Dancer stuff, but his love of space is still clear, and fits the material perfectly. (Also, if you haven't checked out his Sick Tapes series on Mixcloud, do.)

Friday, 13 March 2015

Listen: Sam Dunn - Blood Count

Crushing sonic wildfire with rattling, aching harmonies scraped out on 7 strings by Sam Dunn, a guitarist based in Leeds. Love this. Blood Count is the last tune Billy Strayhorn ever wrote, in 1967, on his death bed.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Fabled EP review - storied, dramatic, indie-film jazz

My advocacy for jazz as film soundtrack cannot be understated, and has only been strengthened through the experience of updating this blog: I have campaigned for Troyka to be introduced to J. J. Abrams, and I've been exposed to Tom Challenger's epic sci-fi work with MA.

Fabled, then, is inspired by the other end of the film spectrum. The record - without cliché - hooks onto tropes from more melodramatic indie film soundtracks: shimmering instrumentation, open rising lines, crystal clear suspensions. Rapley's writing combines all of this with just the right elements of contemporary Jazz composition and improvisational space. I'd heard some of the pieces before from Sam Rapley's trio recordings, but they have really been brought to life here in a way that captures his influences from the world of cinematic music.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Theon Cross releases killer trio EP

Theon Cross, who also plays Tuba in Brass Mask, has just released this incredible trio EP featuring Nubya Garcia on bass clarinet and tenor sax, and produced by drummer Moses Boyd.

It shows the power and potential of a trio without any strings or keys. There are hints of carnival, spiritual, and even adventure. Overall I found it hugely moving - somehow it drips with laughter, memories and lessons learned.

The title track is so joyful it's unreal - proof that jazz can brighten up your day without the least bit of cheese.. It has a killer groove, carnival vibes, and an undercurrent of Scratch-style phase and delay (see also the last track, Trouble Trouble)...

Monday, 2 March 2015

Listen: Polar Bear - Don't let the feeling go

These sax lines, anchored to heavy bass and a firm rhythmic roll, are at times characters, and others devices - grittier versions of the tension you might expect from familiar rising cut-offs on a synth. This is the sound of rising cut-offs on a stoned trucker, all the while shouting slow-carnival dub-jazz in your ear. It's a lot of fun, with a nice hook and a very sweet ending. Just let it roll...