Al­bum re­views

The Herald Magazine - - Arts MUSIC -

Blood Red Roses Repub­lic

TOMASZ Stanko’s re­cent death adds poignancy to this lat­est re­lease by the group the Pol­ish trum­peter adopted as his rhythm sec­tion from 2001 to 2005. By the time Stanko brought them onto the in­ter­na­tional stage, pian­ist Marcin Wasilewski, bassist Sla­womir Kurkiewicz and drum­mer Michal Miskiewicz had al­ready been a work­ing unit for eight years, al­though they were only in their mid-twen­ties, and their con­tin­ued work to­gether pays div­i­dends still as they lis­ten to and sup­port each other’s cre­ative im­pulses.

This set was recorded within days of their most re­cent ap­pear­ance in Scotland, in 2016, and it’s a treat to be taken back to that night when they drew as much in­spi­ra­tion from the Po­lice’s Mes­sage in a Bot­tle as from a more con­ven­tional jazz item, Her­bie Han­cock’s thrillingly dra­matic Ac­tual Proof.

These and Wasilewski’s Night Train to You show them at their most dy­namic, with the last named piece’s springy groove pro­pel­ling the pian­ist to mar­vel­lously ex­ul­tant im­pro­vis­ing.

Wasilewski has a beau­ti­ful touch. Open­ing track Spark of Life cap­tures his pearly phras­ing and tal­ent for cre­at­ing at­mos­phere and moods and Three Re­flec­tions, with Miskiewicz at his most sub­tly urg­ing, is a model of quiet col­lec­tive bril­liance.

IT IS prob­a­bly fair to say that English trio Alt-J’s third stu­dio al­bum, Re­laxer, failed to hit the heights of the two ma­jes­tic ef­forts that pre­ceded it.

So what bet­ter way to give Re­laxer a shot of adren­a­line, a year or so af­ter it was first re­leased, than to put out a “reimag­ined” and remixed ver­sion of said record?

The re­sult, Re­duxer, is an odd hy­brid of math-rock and hip-hop, styles that com­ple­ment each other here like melted-down ad­vent calendar choco­late and a re­formed meat prod­uct from the su­per­mar­ket re­duced aisle. At times it is al­most un­lis­ten­able. In fact it’s hard to imag­ine fans en­joy­ing much about this record – too niche for the main­stream, too weird for hard­core. Less alt-J, more Ctrl+Alt+Del.

A nice idea but, sadly, it is per­haps one van­ity project too far for this in­no­va­tive trio.

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