Album reviews

Forgiveness – ‘Next Time Could Be Your Last Time’

ForgivenessNext Time Could Be Your Last Time

(Gondwana Records – GONDD050review by Graham Spry)

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Gondwana Records is clearly proving to be a good home for members of Portico Quartet past and present. Following the release on the label of a new album by former member Milo Fitzpatrick as one half of Vega Trails, comes a new project known as Forgiveness from current member, saxophonist Jack Wyllie. He is joined on Forgiveness’s debut album Next Time Could Be Your Last Time by London-based Australian composer Richard Pike and synthesiser player JQ (Joe Quirke) who accompany Wyllie’s flute and soprano saxophone with a variety of electronic instruments.

In addition to mixing and mastering the album, RichardPike has an impressive history as a film composer and has been involved in several electronic/ambient projects, such as Australia-based PVT and DEEP LEARNING. Together with JQ, he curates Salmon Universe Records which releases electronic music records whose ambience is much like that of Forgiveness. The album is a continuation of Wyllie’s own projects outside Portico Quartet—such as Szun Waves and Paradise Cinema—that use a mixture of acoustic and electronic instruments. And in these projects, as with Portico Quartet, Wyllie interweaves his saxophone over and around the other instruments, much in the manner of Jan Garbarek on, say, In Praise of Dreams.

The promotional material describes the band’s music as ‘not really jazz’ but, whilst this is certainly true of the music of Pike and JQ, jazz fans will find much to enjoy when Wyllie’s soprano saxophone is free to fly. The album’s tone is in keeping with the Gondwana ethos where the music invites the listener to sink into a deep bath of musical contentment adorned by an occasionally almost psychedelic world of nature. The opening track Mushroom Umbrella sets the scene of lush beauty where Wyllie’s flute floats over sampled vocals, leading into Rainbird which is the track that may have inspired the album’s cover photograph by Petros Koublis of an egret in a forest.

The album’s curiously pessimistic title is reflected in the third track, Dying in Eden: a mournful tune that seems to celebrate a bucolic decadence, followed by the title track whose strangely descending melody is almost like a tape rolling backwards. These tunes suggest that the album’s central message might be that we should appreciate what there is left of nature before it disappears altogether. From then on the album evokes a mood of dense forest, underneath perhaps the Orangeade Sky of the album’s sixth track. The titles of the following tracks—Chameleon, Glasswing, Mountain Top and Lost Fawn—reflect this arboreal environment and whose tunes bring to mind the music of Terry Riley and his exploration of the sounds of the Orient. The final tracks, Transparent and Ocean Floor, drift the listener’s ear through tranquil waves towards an unreconciled but restful conclusion.

The album’s music is a good fit with that of Matthew Halsall, the boss of Gondwana Records, by generating a listening environment that immerses the listener and can be usefully employed in meditation sessions, while still providing a satisfying musical experience. The album notes describe the music of Forgiveness with an overwhelming effusion of adjectives and musical influences which might befuddle listeners, but be assured this is a highly pleasurable album that will appeal to almost everyone, whether or not they are ostensibly jazz fans.

LINK: Next Time... on Bandcamp

Categories: Album reviews

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