Binker and Moses – Escape the Flames(Gearbox GB1570. Digital/Vinyl. Album Review by Adam Sieff)
The Total Refreshment Centre in Stoke Newington was completely rammed on a warm Sunday night in June 2017 when Binker and Moses launched their new double album, Journey to the Mountain of Forever. Fuelled by an early supper from ‘The Best Turkish Kebab’ across the street, they played two sets, each corresponding to one of the album’s two discs. The first set was performed by the duo, tenor saxophonist Binker Golding and drummer Moses Boyd. For the second set, they were joined by the guest musicians who had played on the album; tenor and soprano saxophonist Evan Parker, trumpeter Byron Wallen, harpist Tori Handsley and drummer Yussef Dayes. The music was wonderful, the atmosphere joyous, the audience reaction overwhelming and anyone lucky enough to have been there won’t ever forget it.
The event had been filmed for posterity and the sound was recorded by Gareth Finnegan. The second set was released in 2018 entitled Alive in the East? as a limited vinyl edition. And now the first set is being made available, initially direct to fans via Bandcamp and Gearbox’s website late last year as a vinyl limited edition, and now digitally. Called Escape the Flames or Journey to the Mountain of Forever, Live, Binker said, ‘this recording is Journey to the Mountain of Forever as it was intended to be’.
I’d rather listen to Binker than any of the current crop of young saxophonists (and most of the older ones). Moses always deeply impresses with everything he does, as a producer, musician and broadcaster. He’s a drummer with lightning quick hands and a musical brain to match. Their duo format offers them both the space to take the music wherever they have to, but they always take that path together. It’s the mix of freedom with discipline, listening to each other with respect and understanding.
The deeply hooky and funky Intoxication from the Jahvmonishi Leaves (which they performed on Later…) is even more hooky and funky this time around, a little faster and incredibly tight. And that’s the difference between this live album and the studio recording, every element has been supercharged in some way. They’re absolutely flying on Trees on Fire and full of brooding and menace on the 17 minute long The Departure. The lilting Fete By The River theme is given a real workout that keeps on building and the final song, the gentle Leaving the Now Behind, a little shorter than the album version, is an absolute gem. Cue audience whooping and cheering, and it was only halfway through the evening.
This album may not quite match the audiophile sound quality of the direct-to-tape recorded studio album (even with Gearbox’s excellent mastering), but the thrilling performances and incredible atmosphere more than make up for it. It’s amazing to think that this all went down three and a half years ago, it still sounds like it’s light years in the future.
LINKS: Limited Edition VinylDigital on Bandcamp