Thursday, 3 April 2014

"In Each and Everyone" - Polar Bear - An album review.

Polar bear is a five piece band. They are Sebastion Rochford, leader, and percussionist, Pete Wareham who plays tenor and baritone sax and who sometimes sings,  Marc Lockheart on tenor sax's, Tom Herbert who plays bass and Leafcutter John on electronics. Formed in 2004 by Rochford they have received much acclaim from the music press and leading jazz figures such as Jamie Cullum. 'In Each and Everyone' is their fifth studio album and follows on from award nominated 'Peepers' which was released in 2010.

There are eleven tracks in total and range in length from the coruscating 'Two Storms' at a little over three minutes to the grand elegance of 'Maliana' at eight. Track one, 'Open See' gives latitude to Leafcutter John to execute his electronica upon the album. It is a gentle, meditative piece vaguely Enoish in its ambient spirit. A sax flies bright and clear like a seagull voicing hasty concerns of a promising day knowing full well of the tempest ahead.

Sturm Brecher. Glaxis Unschalt.

'Be Free' clatters in led by Sebastian's junkyard beats. If this is jazz in the strictest sense then my names Fanny Catchpole. This is funky, spare, urgent. Rochford's percussive smacks, crunches and strident rhythm's are delightfully under produced. They sound as though recorded live with nothing to enhance their basement sound. The drums are up their on top, or at least beside, the other instrumentation. It is the drums that are the centre of this bands galaxy, it is the drums that are the sun around which the saxophones wheel and shiver, sending incendiary sparks of clear and sharp notes flying every which way with Tom Herbert's bass acting as the gravity which, like a sullen mistress tethers the twain together. This has muscle, this has funk and reminds me oddly of Gorillaz in its scarlet intent. 

Track four, 'They're all K's and C's Lucien', allows Leafcutter John to flex his muscle with some incredibly rakish electronics; a series of repetitive recordings meander across tableaux of minimalist sounds. This perhaps it what distinguishes them from the pack.

Their ambitions burn equally as bright as the sound they produce. Not only clarity but the purity of sound is a priority here with percussion occupying the same space as traditional lead instruments. Their grooves and melodies are crisp and sweet. They swing but sparingly. The sound is sparse, a little loose but so they may fall over, this is no Pixies.

The bass on 'Chotpot' .grumbles in following upon a hectic opening few bars. There is that space again, the one that allows freedom of movement for one instrument to do or blow where it will before being sucked back into the groove.

It is with 'Lost in Death 2' where the band really excel, though. The exotic, middle eastern sounds curls around like some sensual, sentient, sinuous creature exuding charm and grace. It is one heck of a beautiful sound. It and aforementioned 'Maliana' are the two stand out tracks.

As albums go, and so early in the year too, this must be a contender.

Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

1 comment:

Vanessa V Kilmer said...

I will have to check them out.

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A Utility Fish Shed Blog

A Utility Fish Shed Blog