New jazz from bands named after denizens of the frozen zones are well represented at this year’s Mercury Awards. We took a look at Polar Bear’s In Each And Every One here. Now it is time to consider GoGo Penguins‘s V2.0. Although the CD has been on and off my system for the last month its time to get a posting in here before the Mercury results are announced on 30 October, thus avoiding potential accusations of jumping onto the bandwagon.
Murmeration opens and sets a tone for the set. I’m no piano player but a deceptively simple sounding tune takes on a degree of gravitas. The overall feel is solemn, yet uplifting also and I’m sure, like many of the tracks, this will find a place in the collections of film-makers who are in need of an atmospheric musical soundtrack for their work.
Garden Dog Barbecue is more uptempo with drum and bass hitting a faster rhythm.
Kamaloka delivers a lighter tune that shimmers and sparkles over a relentless pulse phrase on the drums. Fort is another light airy tune before One Pegrcent offers an air of mystery and could conjure an image of a perilous and relentless path ahead.
Home starts with a tabla accompaniment and introduces more delightful piano. The Letter is a mood piece starting with solo piano before the band come in to create an overall feel that could sit well alongside Dylan Howe’s take on Bowie’s Berlin instrumentals (here).
To Drown In You begins with an electronic pitch and some busy, scurrying drums, before the track grows to offer up an evocative soundtrack to wherever a flight of the imagination may take you. Shock And Awe starts ponderously as the drums seem to mimic the ticking of a clock, as it turns out the title does not really represent the content as there are no unpleasant surprises or jaw dropping moments on this particular track.
Hopopono closes V2.0 and thanks to the wonder of YouTube you can take a look and have a listen from this very page.
To watch and listen touch or click on the arrow
The video shows exactly what pianist Chris Illingworth is doing and whilst it looks relatively simple, the repetition builds into na very pleasant, soothing and mellifluous piece that is a great representation of GoGo Penguin’s work on this album.
GoGo Penguin are Manchester based and a couple of them look like lads that you could easily bump into at the football. Whilst V2.0 stands no chance of making onto my desert island shortlist of albums, it is a fine enjoyable effort that is not too difficult to listen to and can act as superior background music. It’s not Keith Jarrett at his best and in full flow and others have referenced the Esbjörn Svensson Trio (an outfit I’m not familiar with yet), but I delighted to have heard this set and added it to my collection. I’m glad that they are under consideration for the 2014 Mercury Award.
The band etc: Chris Illingworth (piano); Nick Blacka (bass); Rob Turner (drums). Released 2014. Recorded: Giant Wafer, March and April 2013 and 80 Hertz August 2013. Exec Producer: Matthew Halsall. Produced: Joseph Reiser & Brendan Williams. Artwork and Design: David Halsall. Issued as Gondwana Records GONDCD 009.