Let Spin – Let Go
(Efpi Records FP023. CD Review by Adrian Pallant)
It’s possible, considering today’s welcome proliferation of independent jazz labels, that significant, gleaming gems of albums could be overlooked by the wider music media. A case in point might (but shouldn’t) be this latest release on Manchester’s artistically offbeat ‘Efpi’ label – Let Go, from collaborative quartet project Let Spin: Chris Williams (alto sax), Moss Freed (electric guitar), Ruth Goller (electric bass) and Finlay Panter (drums).
An eponymous debut recording in 2014 unleashed their powerful potential (hardly surprising when the personnel’s backgrounds include Led Bib, Moss Project, Melt Yourself Down and Beats & Pieces Big Band). Excitingly, second album Let Go shines still brighter with a headier fusion of prog jazz and psychedelic rock, shot through with the rampant energy of ska and punk. Indeed, there’s an overriding sense of raw-edged intent and keen individuality here that could be traced back to ’70s and ’80s bands such as National Health, Colosseum and Back Door.
In true collective spirit, compositional credits are shared equally throughout the eight tracks (two apiece), yet it’s an impressively cohesive work – they’re clearly all very much on the same air supply. Plug in, and the effect is both captivating and unpredictable – from the daybreak aurora of Goller’s I Like to Sound Like a Rainforest, which erupts into a bass-babbling, Bowie-like anthem (Williams screeching at the top of his alto register), to the irresistible retro-pop/ska dance groove of Panter’s Disa. This is a band which carefully constructs its arrangements, yet consistently plays its heart out, as in Williams’ thrashing Walt’s Waltz – a raucous, triple-time bop resounding to crashing guitar and fizzing percussion; and the contrasting, weightless guitar atmospherics of Freed’s E.V.A. possesses a patient soundtrack quality as it gradually crescendos through atypical chord progressions into pulsating, full throttle magnificence. Yes, that good!
Finlay Panter’s Rotation impertinently combines American rock with agitated free jazz and unyielding alto (could that be a Tubular Bells ‘Piltdown Man’ guitar/bass riff in there somewhere?), whilst forlorn, period-sci-fi outing Killing our Dreams (from Chris Williams’ pen) finds positivity through its writer’s extended, hard-blown phrasing. Ruth Goller’s trippy All Animals are Beautiful, underpinned by her characteristically mobile bass, becomes a phantasmagoria of disembodied, echoic guitar wails, unexpected reverse effects, deliberate drum trickery, melodious sax improv… in fact, seven minutes of sheer fascination. And the lucid impressionism of Moss Freed’s Rothko’s Field beautifully blends electronically-effected guitar and sax themes across its liquid canvas.
Eclectic, impassioned and mind-blowing, Let Spin have shifted up a few more gears into the stratosphere – and it’s a blast.