Normally when I write the word jazz it will be followed by an expletive, so I was as surprised as anyone when I bought this EP (or is it a mini-album? I never know) on impulse a little while back.
Heidi Kuisma of We Sink Ships had pointed me in the direction of the promo video for As Time Spins Backwards, one of the songs from this album and I was quite taken. Even though I knew I shouldn’t be buying stuff after midnight on a Saturday night, although for once I was doing it while sober, a bit of listening around convinced me that parting with my five quid would be worth it.
I wasn’t wrong. Yes, it is absolutely a jazz album, but it isn’t impenetrable or over indulgent, and at no point did I think of any expletives to use against it while listening to it. There’s plenty of genre mashing in there if you need to rationalise it to yourself.
That being said the standout moments for me are the ones with vocals, like As Time Spins Backwards, the song that hooked me in the first place. Give me a break, you know how frightened I get when I move outside my comfort zone!
Vocals on the album come from Anneke Kampman, half of Conquering Animal Sound
. If you’ve been paying attention round here you’ll probably have noticed that that band have quickly become a big favourite of mine, and I just plain love Anneke’s vocals, both there and here. Coupled with interesting but again never over indulgent arrangements, and strong melodies everything comes together nicely.
Don’t get me wrong, the instrumentals – which outnumber the vocal ones if you want a count – are pretty gorgeous too, and more Boards of Canada than Jazz Club
. Opening track Pneumatic is a little bit too frantic for me, but still has plenty in it I enjoyed, while the other two are much more laid back affairs, and more to my liking.
A Box of Monkeys won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but if you leave your preconceptions at the door and give it a try you might find yourself pleasantly surprised, just like I was.
Have a listen to As Time Spins Backward and see what you think.
A Box of Monkeys is available directly from Fabrikant Records, and from the usual download places.