(Loop Records Loop1014. CD Review by Chris Parker)
‘Electro-jazz’ played ‘within a setting of dubby beats and drones’, ‘hugely atmospheric but full of powerful improvisation and unexpected textures’ is how is described in its accompanying press release.
‘Ambient’ music it is, but whereas the term might well conjure up the idea of meditative washes of brain-soothing sound, Ma’s approach is soaked in free jazz, so their music, as well as privileging textural unpredictabilty over straightforward rhythmic propulsiveness, features Challenger’s wailing, soaring, grainily powerful tenor set against the garrulous, but surprisingly precise vigour of Dave Smith‘s drums, the evocative Rhodes/organ sounds of Ross Stanley and the ‘wild-card’ electronics of Matt Calvert.
At their most uninhibited, Ma sound like a freer version of Led Bib or Fraud, but there are quieter moments where Challenger emotes softly over an intriguing variety of electronic effects, so that overall, The Last is satisfyingly varied in mood and oddly compelling, richly rewarding repeated listenings, each of which reveals
Copies of Ma’s The Last are available from the Loop Collective website