The Nonidentical – Material Tropes
(NONID Records. Album review by Tony Dudley-Evans)
Not yet a subscriber of our Wednesday Breakfast Headlines?
Join the mailing list for a weekly roundup of Jazz News.
Material Tropes, the debut full album of the Nonidentical group led by composer and multi-instrumentalist Zac Gvi, is both thoughtful and eclectic. It features many of the players active on the alternative jazz scene in the UK. The group developed out of a series of nights in London organised by Gvi that brought together musicians, poets, dancers and actors.
The album has two aims, one musical, the other socio-political. The musical aim is to integrate melodic counterpoint into the language of contemporary groove music. The socio-political aim is to focus on injustice throughout the world; the compositions were originally written in response to the 2011 riots in London and focus on climate change and inequality in society.
Nonidentical is a good name for the group in that the music is extremely varied moving from through-composed pieces to freely improvised tracks, from compositions with a classical ambiance to groove based pieces, and from recordings of animals and protesters at a rally to gentle melancholy songs.
It is interesting that several of the players were members of the no longer active F-Ire Collective, Gvi himself, but also Seb Rochford, cellist Ben Davis and percussionist Maurizio Ravalico. The F-Ire Collective philosophy lives on in the eclecticism of this band.
The album begins with One (Many), a short atmospheric track featuring Julie Kjaer’s alto sax over organ, accordion and gentle drums and percussion. This leads into White Collared Criminals which begins with a vocal attacking financiers and politicians before moving into a groove based passage influenced by Afrobeat. Spoken word is also a feature of The Spectacle in which Giulia Loi’s absorbing words alternate with nicely bouncy instrumental passages featuring the whole ensemble. Ruth Goller produces a very different vocal on Ocean’s End, a gentle plaintive song about solitude and the consolation of encounters. Two tracks feature field recordings, one a striking recording of birds with a backing of an organ (Flight), the other ofprotesters at a political rally. Bijoulacra draws on folk music. The atmospheric mood of One (Many) is picked up in Untouchables and Fire In The Sky. A similar atmosphere is created in the final track, Many (One), but here the music is freely improvised as a companion piece to the opening track, One (Many) which appears to be through-composed.
Material Tropes is a set of music with a clear socio-political message about change in society. Gvi has successfully aligned this theme with the music whose variety underpins its message.
Material Tropes is released today 30 June 2023