Thursday, 7 July 2011

Examples of Twelves - Things Will Be

What a pleasure to hear Things Will Be, the third (*) and (from what I've read) final part to the 'Example of Twelves' trilogy, released this month on Impossible Ark Records. It's really refreshing to hear music which although not 'avante-garde' or musically ground breaking, does actually defy easy categorisation. Music often fits easily into one category or another and groups are happily surprised to discover their record has had more far ranging influence than was originally intended. Who would of imagined in the 60s that rock music would change the direction of jazz forever? Some people (listeners and musicians alike) never really got over this hybrid change in their sacred swinging sounds, others jumped in right up to their necks. What has emerged many years later is the possibility of styles that can comfortably cross-over different genres with studio techniques opening up a large palette of sounds and colours for any musician who's ready to learn. 

You might be wondering what all of the above has to do with the album at hand Examples of Twelves - Things Will Be ...? The answer is in part due to the diversity of bassist leader and composer Riaan Vosloo's vision of music, his ability take from many musical languages, and popular culture in general, yet at no point hand back pale imitations of any one style. The compositions on this record are subtly influenced by the cultures of modern dance musics such as funk, rap or reggae, free jazz, film music, and a healthy slice of film noire and jazz references which show influences ranging from Louis Malle to Coppola's 'One from the Heart'. The result being a highly listenable yet musically challenging ride through seven varied tracks.

What gives this record it's possibility to cross these stylistic boundaries is the wise use of instrumentation - sax, bass clarinet, flute, trumpet, piano, fender rhodes, bass and drums, arranged (orchestrated in fact) in such a way as to give a large ensemble sound when needed. Riaan Vosloo's experience in working with Nostalgia 77 also means that when the music needs to be 'funky', it can, and with the help of Tim Giles (Drums) and Ross Stanley (Fender) the music can go in multiple directions as needed and with the array of musicians different featured soloists appear throughout the music. The opening The Webs We Weave (Nocturne), one of the longest pieces on the LP, runs you through various themes which have a pastoral feeling at moments, due in part to the use of bass clarinet, trumpet, sax, flute and piano.  However as the music takes off room is left for solos over a grooving riff.  Lost People the second track cleverly uses a fine mixture of trumpet and bass clarinet in what could be a contemporary classical piece, launching into a fine heavy beat that the likes of Elbow would be proud of. The third and forth tracks are Please Hold Pt 1 and 2, Part 1 being a sort of solo piano meditation based around the theme that is yet to be revealed and very delicate it is, but when Part 2 arrives you start to really hear the nod towards what could make a beautiful film soundtrack theme. Fulvio Sigurta deserves a special mention as he manages (for my money) to play the theme beautifully without adding much or wandering off into other inflections at all.  Track five has jazz, dub, and much more to keep it up in the air ..... you can listen below yourselves.

The View from the Castle - Tk 5.

To my ears there seems to be a sort of suite like quality to the running order, however I'm not sure this is the real intention. On The Glass Bead Game (tk 6) there is a similar unwinding of various themes - as on The Webs We Weave (Tk 1) - and is probably what gives the feeling of a suite. Here Matthew Bourne gets a chance to show his avant-jazz chops to great effect and Mark Hanslip also manages to ride out some choppy rhythms playing his usual dense melodic lines to great effect. But everyone on this album sounds excellent and it's easy to see how you can come back to this release to listen again and again to this music.

The last track (7) Miniature 2 another piano meditation, leaving us with a melancholic feeling of an unanswered question. In fact the only thing that's really missing is that one almost wonders if any film credits will roll by.  

Riaan Vosloo - Bass (Arrangements and compositions)
Tim Giles - Drums
Ross Stanley - Fender Rhodes
Matthew Bourne - Piano
Mark Hanslip - Tenor sax
James Allsopp - Bass Clarinet, Tenor sax
Fulvio Sigurta - Trumpet
Catherine Shrubshall - clarinet
Tori Freestone - flute

Important Note - This is a limited edition of 400 LPs with hand printed covers ...... so don't wait if you're tempted as it's now or never. Well, for all of you that read this too late it is also available in digital download also.  For information on this release contact -

* = I was nicely impressed by this lovely album and am certainly curious to hear how we actually got to this point in the music. I'll bring you up to date with the first two records later in the summer when I've had time to hear them, and of course absorb a little of the music. Of course if you're curios you should also check out the other work these musicians are involved in such as the Twelves and Nostalgia 77 to mention just two!

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