Get the Blessing - Lope and Antilope
(Naim CD 199. Cd Review by Jon Turney)
Lope sounds easy-going, loose-jointed. Some of the tunes are certainly like that. But a lope can also be relentless, a hunter's pace. That also happens here a lot. Get the Blessing are big on atmosphere and mood, and the ones conjured up by Clive Deamer's immaculate beats and Jim Barr's reliably insinuating bass lines are often agreeably sinister, to my ear.
This is the fourth recording from the popular Bristol foursome, who blend Deamer and Barr's bass and drums (or drum'n'bass) team with post-Ornette horns from trumpet and flugel player Pete Judge and tenor and baritone sax exponent Jake McMurchie. Rooted in four days of unprepared playing recorded at a makeshift studio in Pembrokeshire, it retains their flair for memorable riffs, but experiments more with texture, often aided by electronics.
There is judicious use of treated sounds, as well as occasional colour effects from long-term collaborator Adrian Utley's guitar and various pedals and synths, such that one can't always tell who did what. It's of no consequence: what matters is the soundscape.
For all that, there are plenty of strong contributions from the horns, sometimes lightening a more ominous backdrop, sometimes adding to it, sometimes just playing inspired solos over the top in a more conventional “jazz” fashion. The overall sound is consistently recognisable but realised in a pleasing variety of ways, with a dash of electric Miles here, a distorted sax line there. And always the beats.
Now melancholy, now menacing, qualities emphasised here by the absence of the humourous asides that often garnish their live shows, this offering shows them deepening their unique approach to music that is never all jazz, nor rock, nor avant-garde, just accessibly fascinating, poised between the familiar and the unexpected like a meal by an adventurously talented chef.
(Get The Blessing are on tour from mid-February, including album launch dates at the Jazz Cafe - 05/03 - and Bristol International Jazz and Blues Festival - 09/03)