Polar Bear

Leafcutter John gives the sound its beyond-jazz appeal and there’s still the textural soundscape side there in his style but also a connection with a post-dubstep world that would better be equipped to make more sense of Polar Bear than a lot of jazz made today. Few of the tunes are as strong, in a simply catchy sense, as the title track of 2010's Peepers, although ‘Lost in Death Part 2’ comes close with an English pastoral sense emerging melodically that connects more with the band’s early days. In Each and Every One has more depth and interest than Peepers from a compositional standpoint and the album keeps you guessing even after repeated plays. ‘WW’ has drama and a swirling anarchic sense to it that melds into an involving improvisation combined with creative studio effects. It also shows the artistic risks the band continue to take and mostly pull off, while ‘Maliana’ has a perky triangle-like interlocking Terry Riley-esque upper percussion-line aspect to it plus brassy brushstrokes and much else fascinating murk. Towards the end the record digs deeper into savant electronica territory, crackles and all, on ‘Life and Life’ and the melancholia and piercing drama ultimately of the saxophone melody is remarkable while ‘Two Storms’ at the end has a slightly withdrawn feel, the saxophone line just going up the scale and the ascending tympani-like lobbing in of tonal bass-y effects along for the ride on a stimulating record, Polar Bear's best to date.Stephen Graham

Released on 24 March