This Manchester ensemble's demo was described tentatively as Jazz Rock, a genre combination
some may be wary of, but one which if approached well can lead to interesting results. For
an early demo it shows promise but the direction seems a little unclear - I feel it tries to
be too many things within the space of 8 songs, and doesn't quite hit the mark with any of
As you might expect from jazz musicians it's technically very accomplished - complex rhythms
and arrangements layering guitars, drums, 2 saxes, and even a harp at one point. Despite the
odd timing glitch it's pretty tight and recorded quite well. The parts have a improvisatory
feel but sound well rehearsed as a whole.
The problem then - technical ability isn't everything, and while producing this kind of
music it's easy to get carried away in the jam and end up with songs that, while skillful
and fun to play become over-indulgent and don't present a coherent message to the listener.
Some tracks are quite promising - my favourite would be 'The new one', a light jazzy pop
number with sax and some nice folk-styled female vocals that recalls the likes of Stereolab.
'Nothing' might please Muse fans with its smoky angst and grungier prog-rock atmospherics,
but seems rather overblown to me. '14/8 Reggae' manages the time signature (I counted!) but hardly
resembles reggae - while weird time signatures for their own sake can lead to rather
badly-thought-out proggy sounding works (as they do in the descriptively named '5/4 6/4'),
the 14/8 number is a little more to my taste, quite fast with some yelpy garage rock Make-Up
Of the remainder - there are some quite funky tracks that might work better if reigned in
with some tighter contemporary dance sensibilities, but as it is fall prey to over-indulgent
guitar improvisation, lack direction and sound too 'jammy' to really appeal. 'Purgatory'
starts off with some interesting and sinister post-rocky atmospherics based around the harp,
although like too much of the demo it's a bit over-dramatic and feels the need to progress
into an unrestrained and rather long/wanky jazz guitar and sax wig-out where a simpler more direct arrangement would suffice.
Part of the problem is that it's not really clear what the band are aiming to do, making it
rather hard to judge. In some ways the variety is a good thing, but some tracks seem to miss
the mark altogether in a band context and, while accomplished, feel more suited to dramatic
incedental music, jingles or even a rock musical. At the end of the day though it's just
about playing what you enjoy - I'm sure they'd be fun to watch live, and probably would be
to the taste of many jazz fans, but they'd have to cut back the arrangements to something a
bit more tasteful and coherent to really hit the mark with me.
6Matthew Willson's Score