Graham Reid | | 1 min read
I'm sure I'll be forgiven if I don't repeatedly type out the name of this Australian trio who appear on New Zealand's Rattle Jazz imprint. For convenience and our sanity I'm going to refer to these guys -- guitarists James Brown and Sam Cagney, drummer Stephen Neville -- as YY.
Brown has appeared at Elsewhere previously (here) but this is a very different context again as this Adelaide-based trio locate their often brittle sounds along an axis where you might also find James Blood Ulmer (at his most restrained), John McLaughlin (in a slow frame of mind) and Jeff Beck (in fusion rather than rock mode).
When the mood is more subdued as on the mostly spacious seven minutes of Void this also edges towards astrally-inclined space rock through delays and echoes, and what sounds like backward tapes and vari-speed studio manipulation (although the liner note says this was recorded live to tape with no edits or overdubs, which doesn't preclude those effects).
Just as interesting is Shetland Dream 1863 -- stretching past seven minutes also -- which flirts with slow blues modes but has a deliberately faltering sound which keeps you alert for its mostly leisurely duration (although it reaches for some sky-piercing towards the end).
There's certainly some grit in the playing elsewhere (Howl, the out-there and into-blues Ouff) but also a rare if edgy beauty in places (On Your Marx, Get Set!, the brooding and steadily deconstructing Perfect Day for Bananafish, the delightfully dark fury of Requiem for David). And in Monocause a piece which has a fragile delicacy within the funk.
Down Home almost sounds it, if your idea of country music is framed by fusion.
In places this won't be the easiest jazz album you'll hear this year, but YY have staked out a particular territory with exploratory innovation, and after a few repeat plays this becomes less of a challenge and more coherent than first impressions suggest.
For Rattle Jazz's first album of Australian artists it's a very worthy debut and with any luck will give the label a foothold over there as much as introduce these names to open-eared jazz listeners in New Zealand.