Alex Munk – Flying Machines
(Pictor PIC-001. CD Review by Peter Jones)
Flying Machines’s moniker was not randomly chosen: as guitarist and bandleader Alex Munk explains at gigs, his late father Roger was a pioneering designer of gigantic modern airships.
Munk fils has gathered around him some of the busiest emerging jazz talent on the scene: unassuming electric bassist Conor Chaplin seems to be cropping up with everyone these days, including Laura Jurd’s Dinosaur, Freddie Gavita and Alice Zawadzki. Drummer Dave Hamblett is currently touring with Ivo Neame’s amazing quintet, while pianist Matt Robinson has played with Corrie Dick and Lauren Kinsella. Munk himself has been a member of the Wildflower Sextet.
Sensibly, he spent the last year touring his band prior to recording this fresh and accomplished debut album, thus ensuring the tunes were well bedded in.
And what fine tunes they are. However noisy they get (and they do get noisy), the music is always melodic. There is sweet, lyrical stuff like As Long As It Lasts, First Breath (you can imagine the latter as an acoustic number), and the Methenyesque A Long Walk Home. More often, though, Munk’s trademark guitar sound is sharp and attacking, if not full-on crunching power chords, as on the progtastic Emotional Math Metal, which wouldn’t sound out of place on a King Crimson album.
Primarily a guitar showcase, Flying Machines also has room for a couple of excellent solos from Robinson, particularly on Lighter Than Air – for me the album’s highlight.
Despite its accessibility, Flying Machines is (are?) hard to pigeonhole; its elements will appeal to music fans across a range of genres, specifically rock, prog, and jazz. In iTunes it even comes up as ‘indie rock’. But whatever you call it, the music is beautiful.
LINK: Interview with Alex Munk about Flying Machines
The album is launched on Friday 14 October at the Vortex.
There’s another chance to see Flying Machines on Thursday 20 November at the Green Note as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival. These will be followed next year by a 22-date UK tour.