CD Review: GoGo Penguin – v2.0

GoGo Penguin – v2.0
(Gondwana Records. GONDCD 009. CD Review by Nicolas Pillai)

Assured and exciting, the delightfully named GoGo Penguin go from strength to strength. Now comprising pianist Chris Illingworth, bassist Nick Blacka and drummer Rob Turner, the trio’s second album is technically superb but never cold, emotionally rich but never mawkish, by turns contemplative and frenetic.

It’s little wonder that these ten tracks have been attracting the attention not just of jazz fans but also club DJs. But to praise GoGo Penguin for their crossover potential is to condemn them to cliché. And this is a real jazz band, brimming with ideas communicated with panache.

On the first track, Murmuration, Turner’s drums are wingbeats which, over Blacka’s urgent bass, fly Illingworth from measured rhetoric to anthemic crescendo. Garden Dog Barbecue and Kamaloka pick up the tempo, evoking drum loops and breakbeats that agitate Illingworth’s glacial tone. In Fort, a simple echo effect suggests the infinity of space. The band’s evident interest in the acoustic/digital relationship finds apotheosis in One Percent, in which their instruments brilliantly mimic the sound of a CD skipping.

The second half of the album takes a somewhat more introspective tone, reflected in the song titles. Home, The Letter (recorded totally in the dark) and the heady To Drown In You all build to Shock and Awe which ticks ominously, a promise of death. Throughout, the listener is gripped by the drama of these compositions. Their collective impact makes the final track Hopopono seem yet more playful and welcome. The album ends on a high, showing off this young band’s charisma and energy with a song both lyrical and incisive.

Categories: miscellaneous

5 replies »

  1. Can you justify your (to me flippant & nonsensical) statement please… I have seen this talented young piano trio live at Kings Place and have the above CD, yes they are pushing the boundaries of the modern JAZZ trio & I will be interested to see where they go next. Question Ernie. Have you listened to the whole CD, if you have listen again in a quiet darkened room. I would be interested if you still feel the same way. That is if you can be derrièred to listen with open ears & mind, I do so hope you can. Stephen Lion

  2. Sounds like background music for some highly dramatized TV documentary. Should have someone trying to explain something vital at a slightly lower level.

  3. What????? Are you & Ernie listening to the same CD the reviewer & I heard????? Or have you just listened to Hopopono (the track above) and condemned a whole CD of electrifying modern JAZZ. If that is so, shame on you both……. Would be interested to know though. Just in case you are wondering, I am a 58 year old fan of music of all genres including classical, world, folk, prog rock and many other forms of music…… Stephen a listener without prejudice (hopefully)……..

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