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CD: Partisans - Swamp | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Partisans - Swamp

CD: Partisans - Swamp

Veteran fusioneers blend their sounds with a delicacy that's more celestial than swampy

The Partisans' swamp is a fragrant place...

The swamp, all grime and alligators, is not somewhere most jazz or rock fans will expect to spend much time, a soggy Glastonbury aside, and it’s a puzzling title for a work of reflective delicacy and sympathetic instrumental colouring. Partisans have now been playing together for 18 years, and this album, their fifth (a leisurely work-rate indicative mainly of how busy the players are elsewhere) is a sensitive tonal portrait and quiet trove of electronic loveliness.

The sweetness of Robson’s guitar and Thad Kelly’s bass, singing and growly, is layered with Siegel’s reeds, from piping soprano sax to occasionally gruff bass clarinet, and both are built on the vein-like rhythmic traces of Calderazzo’s rhythm.

Composition is half guitarist Phil Robson and half saxophonist Julian Siegel, though it’s often hard to distinguish, so intimately do all the players here know each others’ work. Previous albums have included a handful of collaborators, but these pieces, closely focused and intricately woven, are masterpieces of detailed performance. Any more sounds would obscure that delicacy, making this very much a set for the hi-fi or an intimate venue. The first three tracks absorb themselves completely in a fascinating, intense interior dialogue, and it’s not until the fourth, title track, with its yowling distorted bass, urgently unsettled rhythms and alarm-call sax phrases, that any sense of swamp emerges. Soon, though, we’re back in a gentle, airy vortex of melody, perhaps best exemplified by the sixth track, “Overview”, with its traces of electronic melody like a distant shooting star. Lovely. But more celestial than swampy. 

  • Swamp is launched on 29 September at Jazz in the Round, Cockpit Theatre, London NW8, the first event in a UK tour 
It’s not until the fourth, with its yowling distorted bass, urgently unsettled rhythms and alarm-call sax phrases, that any sense of swamp emerges


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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