Pulled by Magnets, Rose Golden Doorways, Tak:til

One of the challenges facing any band is to sound like nothing that has gone before. Few succeed in that aspiration should they even be conscious of it. Pulled by Magnets, however, do. Sometimes a trio can sound very small indeed. This trio, …

Published: 8 Feb 2020. Updated: 3 months.

One of the challenges facing any band is to sound like nothing that has gone before. Few succeed in that aspiration should they even be conscious of it. Pulled by Magnets, however, do.

Sometimes a trio can sound very small indeed. This trio, however, have a huge sound constructed out of a small number of raw ingredients. They do not play a million notes. And yet there is a titanic epic sense to Rose Golden Doorways.

It does not sound conventional and certain jazz fans will not be able to relate at all to what Seb Rochford on drums, Neil Charles on bass guitar touring with Anthony Braxton recently and Rochford's long time Polar Bear colleague saxophonist Pete Wareham are doing. Some might even claim it is not even jazz. While that is a non-subject or should be unless you indulge a deranged interest in tilting at windmills the record ruggedly does not neatly fit into any genre which again is why it works so convincingly.

There is a mystery in play and not just the cryptic cuneiform-like symbols that adorn the artwork. More deeply the tunes are built on long, quite hypnotic notes, thunderous drums and cavern deep bass. Enhanced by electronics and the deep minings that have hauled up precious gems from the deep, some tracks (for instance 'Cold Regime People Die') have an ominous Gothic Hammer Horror-esque quality to them

This dungeons and dragons type atmosphere delivers for sure a doom-laden sense to the quasi-apocalyptic sound that the three have laboratory fashioned. And that probabably makes sense to the sort of eclectic jazz fan who likes the full-on dronery of Sunn O))).

Wareham has his vulnerabilities that he likes to communicate on tracks such as 'Those Among Us' and he manages to contour his contributions from an ache and blistering agony towards a quiet tenderness that adds nuance and subtlety.

Rochford cuts a remarkably buddha-like presence even when playing the fuck out of his kit. He manages to fashion a quiet mantra out of mood and shape and when I saw the band live in a church in Bethnal Green last year he even delivered some gnomic verse which frankly came as a bolt from the blue. Playing some of the tunes from the album that night they blew me away. They do so all over again on this remarkable recording, a sound once heard, never forgotten and the beginning of a remarkable new chapter that further illuminates the imagination and protean ideas of Rochford, one of today's most insightful drummer-composers working anywhere on the globe. SG

Neil Charles, above left, Pete Wareham, Seb Rochford. Photo: Bandcamp

Tags: 2020 best so far tracks / albums

Boney James' unlikely stand

The cringey countdown is certainly on and moving full steam ahead towards release day for the new Boney James record. The record company has put up a few glossy photos, the latter the work of ''creative duo'' '''Describe the Fauna'''. How exciting.

Published: 8 Feb 2020. Updated: 3 months.

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The cringey countdown is certainly on and moving full steam ahead towards release day for the new Boney James record. The record company has put up a few glossy photos, the latter the work of ''creative duo'' '''Describe the Fauna'''. How exciting.

Smooth jazz, the kingdom of which Mr James is one of the chief tempters of tune, is not to be taken at all seriously. Or, more to the point, at all.

However, in one of those inconvenient ironies it is often the guilty secret of many a top jazz club that they sneak on this kind of stuff while maintaining their reputation somehow of still being a serious jazz club.

Usually all the real jazz fans run away when smooth is on so the clubs end up with a completely new audience of diehards or baffled newcomer innocents who never admit quite sensibly beyond the confines of the club to even knowing what smooth jazz is let alone who the daft guy with the sax and the hat happens to be.

In an age of social media the weird thing is that smooth jazz hardly earns a tweet, never ever a review unless someone is taking the piss, and yet packs jazz clubs out every time the American stars (they are nearly all American) decide Europeans need this sort of thing inflicted on them like now.

Let's be charitable, on quiet nights when only a few people and their admittedly highly discerning pet dogs turn out for hip new band Trigonometry who are however public spiritedly tackling the more preposterous side of Colosseum, things for the club are looking grim when the jazz club cash till has terminally seized up through lack of use this side of Christmas and possibly for ever unless they can get Dave Koz on the phone again and book him for a month to restore their scarily depleted coffers.

Intrinsically a waste of time beyond keeping overpaid record company excecutives in a job (when companies could actually hire people who cared), one of the great paradoxes of the universe is how acts such as Boney James sell a lot of records. People I suspect buy their records because they have been hypnotised into believing that what they are listening to is not music but instead a sticky, highly bad for you, ''fun'' drug called atmosphere that makes a change from listening to their beloved Andre Rieu all day long or enjoying the on-hold music they listen to when they are ringing up for news of the exciting new range of tropical salsa Kettle chips in stock soon at their local Asda. If your idea of atmosphere by the way is sitting listening to someone playing the same old licks badly all night made to sound good by a backing band who should be actors and a crafty sound engineer who somehow has made the muppet on stage sound good and deserves a medal, then good luck to you.

Solid is released by Concord in April. Its predecessor the unironically titled Honestly made it to the top of the Billboard contemporary jazz album charts and the chances are that this will have a sporting chance too if the marketing guys spend enough cash to ease it along which they still do even when it can be estimated to sell shedloads without their ever lifting a pampered finger. There is always budget to promote the likes of Solid when most jazz albums get about a fiver to cosy up to the one person who might review it to encourage a few more to buy it. Boney says sweetly but very bizarrely: “I often get great compliments from the people that come to my shows, that I ‘never disappoint’ them, and that’s very gratifying to me. That’s what I was trying to express with this title, that sense of character… to stand for something principled.” SG