I have mixed feelings on listening to this album as I really liked the first five tracks and found the sounds interesting and the grooves enjoyable. The band are all about the rhythm section of bass and drums with each track being driven by bass grooves that while in some cases are repetitive, never become boring. Guitar also adds texture and variety, while Sax and Trumpet provide melodic improvised solos, sometimes adding riffs to the grooves.
This is on a Jazz label and gets lumped in with Jazz, presumably because this is instrumental music with no vocals - but the core of the band come from Portishead and many of the tunes are atmospheric and beat-driven, reminding you more of modern bands like Mogwai,Sigur Ros etc. than anybody working on the Jazz scene. There are no Jazz licks and no Jazz harmonies - in fact most of the tracks are about lines rather than chords. Of course this has been part of Jazz as well, with artists like Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler and Lee Konitz dispensing with chords. However this doesn't sound like it's coming from Jazz, although some of the trumpet/flugel solos would fit in that world.
My reservations start around "Viking Death Moped", which is quite funny as an idea and has a nice riff - but from this moment, the band seem to get more involved with effects than actual music and the album seems to lose confidence and peter out. Subsequent tracks seem to focus on distorted effects and have little of the inspiration that suffused the first half of the album. Overall I would have given a top recommendation for the first half of this album, which is original, interesting and highly enjoyable - but I feel I have to temper this with reservations about some of the later tracks and the over-use of distortion - which some may like, but for me, detracted from the music.
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