Spectrum Orchestrum – Suburbs
(Own label/bandcamp – CD Review by Peter Slavid)
I enjoy finding new bands. and there’s a special pleasure in coming across one that doesn’t seem to appear anywhere on the radar.
Spectrum Orchestrum released their album Suburbs in October 2014. They are William Hamlet : saxophone alto & flute, Olivier Vibert: guitar, voice; Benjamin Leleu: keyboards, Philippe Macaire: bass, percussion, voice; and Adrien Protin: drums & percussion.
After extensive sleuthing on Google I have learnt only that the band is based in Lille and that most of the musicians have appeared in this band without any visible history.
And yet they seem to have been in existence since 2007, when their first CD “Improvisarium I” came out. In the intervening eight years they have appeared at a number of festivals, and Improvisarium II and III have also been released, and now we have this extended EP available in a limited edition.
There is evidence of a slightly odd sense of humour: the band that puts out promotional literature littered with invented quotes from Professor Abronsius – a character from the cult film The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck.
So what of the music? Somewhere between free jazz and prog-rock would probably be their own description – they quote influences of Zorn, Sun Ra, King Crimson, Robert Wyatt and others. For me it has more subtlety than that and a lot more wit – and this EP at least is definitely more jazz than rock.
For a start there’s a lot of variety of tone, with delicate guitar and keyboards as well as heavy rock beats, especially on the standout Ornette Coleman composition “Lonely Woman”. And there’s some fine sax playing over broken rhythms on the title track too.
Given that London is closer to Lille than it is to Manchester, it’s a shame that we don’t know more about the jazz scene over there, and it would definitely be great to see bands like this live in London.
Peter Slavid is the presenter of the ukazz radio show, available via Mixcloud