Thursday, 29 October 2009

Alister Spence - Mercury

Reviewed by John Jackson

I took this to review on a whim, partly because of my want to expand my knowledge of the Jazz scene and partly because I had been drinking, however as soon as a popped the CD in my computer I realised it had been a great choice. At first listen the album hits you as a piece of classic lounge music, this is the sort of music the bourgeoisie drink flamboyant cocktails too. It is the sort of music you listen too whilst unwinding with a coffee, a latte for example. However after listening to it again, you realise it wasn’t a latte you were drinking, it was an espresso.

Ok I realise that comparing jazz music to coffee isn’t the done thing but bear with me. A latte is a comfortable drink, easy to get right, easy to drink, similar to good lounge music. A good espresso, however, is difficult to make, its flavours vary inside it from the strength of the first sip, to the subtle aftertaste, similar to good jazz music.

I have often found it difficult to appreciate music without lyrics yet the trio’s pianist Spence dispels this idea within moments of the opening track Alpha. You can hear his passion in his touches of the keys in what seems a mystical setting. Then in later tracks, such as my personal favourite Marco Polo goes West, you can hear a frenzy of notes pouring out from the heart of the piano. Swanton and Hall (Bass and drums respectively) provide a fantastic backing to this, seemingly following wherever the piano goes with music to accompany it perfectly. There style also seems to range from the classic lounge jazz sounds of Sixteen to the more experimental Pi. Pi sounds like it should be taken from the soundtrack of lost in translation, its only 1:48 long yet it makes the biggest impact on the album due to it being constructed using mainly glockenspiel samples but also due to its relaxed nature coming straight after the frenzy that is Marco Polo goes west.

All in all, I love this album and am deeply looking forward to reviewing their newest album Fit. Seriously if you are interested in jazz or seeing the roots of modern music please have a listen, preferably somewhere comfortable, low lit, with a drink, I suggest an old fashioned one.


No comments:

Post a Comment