CD review

Fat-Suit – Waifs & Strays

Fat-Suit – Waifs & Strays
(Equinox EQX006CD. CD Review by Rob Adams)

The fourth album from Glasgow jazz-funk-folk collective Fat-Suit witnesses a significant stride forward in terms of composition as well as the now routine feat of corralling a platoon of musicians, most of whom have other projects and income sources, into the same place long enough to record together.

Some 25 Fatties and three guests contribute to music that is high on energy and incident and makes great use of often quite simple phrases that stay with the listener long after the disc has finished.

Big brassy urgency, the swells of ten string players, penetrating guitar and bass guitar riffs, and pitch-bending synths coalesce in a sound whose quality and bite have echoes of those Breckers-staffed sessions in 1970s and 1980s New York that produced albums such as Steve Khan’s The Blue Man.

On top of the ensemble dynamism that allows, say, Caretaker, with its dampened guitar picking and almost solemn keys, to set up a bright mood that’s walloped out onto the dancefloor by a marvellously fat, swaggering bassline and wonderfully filthy guitar, there are some heroic individual exploits. Mateusz Sobieski’s tenor saxophone solo on Keo is, frankly, epic, and for all that Liam Shortall’s trombone improvising can sound gloriously unruly, he, like Sobieski, also reveals an acute awareness of idea development and mighty resourcefulness.

More reflective moments come with the suitably bucolic Countryside Quiet, complete with Scottish harp, and the chill-out zone of Lunar Milk, two lovely breathers in a session that’s otherwise full of exuberance and that, on Mombasa, boasts possibly guest guitarist Davie Dunsmuir’s grandest stand – to date. No wonder Fat-Suit grabbed him on Ayrshire downtime from the Billy Cobham Band and let him share in their triumph.

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