Sonic Curiosity June 2007
The band is: Phil Miller (from Matching Mole, Hatfield & the North, and National Health) on guitar and synth guitar, Pete Lemer on keyboards, Fred Baker on bass, Mark Fletcher on drums, Simon Picard on saxophone, Simon Finch on trumpet and flugelhorn, Annie Whitehead on trombone, Didier Malherbe (from Gong) on saxophone, flute, doudouk and ocarina, Doug Boyle on guitar, Dave Stewart (from Egg, Hatfield & the North, and National Health) on tuned percussion, Barbara Gaskin on vocals, and Richard Sinclair (from Caravan) on bass.
With a line-up of seasoned pros like the above, one must expect the music is going to be excruciatingly tight and slippery slick. It is.
The horns waft and sway with amiable emotion. Maintaining a very jazzy disposition, the horn section delivers tasty riffs with delightful expertise. Comfortable melodies are imbued with molten passion. The saxophones wail with cheerful melancholy. The trumpet warbles with earnest fervor.
Enchanting riffs spill from the guitar with glorious agility. Each note is meticulously placed to elevate the entire instrumental gestalt. And when the guitar gets the chance to elbow its way into the spotlight, the glory becomes ecstatic and amazing.
The keyboards provide delicate embellishment to the melodies with often dramatic sweeps. Nimble-fingered chords slide into wondrous melodies that serve to connect the other instruments’ riffs.
The percussion is skillful and knows exactly how to drive from a submerged vantage. Never too strong, never too elusive, the rhythms fit perfectly between the rest of the notes.
The basslines are intricate, fluid, and lend particular nectar to the tunes.
These compositions are dazzling and engaging. Their ability to immediately put the listener at ease is eminent. While steeped in Canterbury roots, this music is very straight-ahead jazz, merging old school traditions with modern delivery. The result is mesmerizing and rewarding, with wide appeal.
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