Little Perks for Volunteering…also reviews

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I usually come in on Sundays to do my bit which equates to sitting in front of the computer for a few hours. It’s useful, and gives me an excuse to listen to the radio without any static but it can get boring. Luckily, there’s always a regular occurrence of live music in the studio. This was one of them. A definite perk in my books.
..And now reviews…

Compilation- “Afro-Rock Volume One” (STRUT / INERTIA)
I came into this compilation with little knowledge of the players involved but I had blind faith that I’d enjoy to excursion. “Afro-Rock” provides a tiny of slice to the jazz, funk and soul scene of East Africa in the early sixties/seventies. Old school, groovy tunes abound this compilation with the sole intention of getting your dance on. The track selection is solid with nary a filler in all it’s ninety minutes. Top groove picks would be “Heavy Heavy Heavy”, “Africa” and “Envy No Good”. This compilation is a wonderful soundscape to a past era of East African music and I enjoyed the outing.

Jaga Jazzist- “One-armed Bandit” (NINJA TUNE / INERTIA)
Is it silly of me to think of “One-armed Bandit” as space jazz?
This is my first taste of Jaga Jazzist’s brand of jazz-rock-experimental instrumental and I was apprehensive at first. It’s probably to do with fact that most of the jazz I’ve enjoyed tended to be of the classical, vintage variety.
Lars Horntveth and his fellow Norwegians are very comfortable blending classic jazz sensibilities with modern electronica to create an exotic cocktail of atmospheric sound. Luckily, with some persevering the cocktail grew on me and I began to appreciate the atmospheric, ambient flavours. Tracks like “Toccata”, “One-Armed Bandit”, “Book Of Glass” and “Touch Of Evil” would have to my favourites.
The effect may not be immediate but it’s a grower and before you know it you’ll feel like flying into something…er spacey. There you go, space jazz or perhaps I just watch too much Doctor Who.

Bastila- Debut Album (SUNDAY BEST / SHOCK)
I confess I took this CD because of the cover. Blame the art nerd in me and that red in the composition probably didn’t help matters. With that out of the way, I found Bastila’s first strike to be another grower(sensing a pattern here).
Initially, I found the foursome’s combo of ska and gypsy punk to be a little undercooked. Once again patience and a couple more big bites convinced me otherwise.
What I found was a very catchy guitar work coupled sweet beats borrowing the best of ska and gypsy punk sensibilities. The result is a debut that makes me want to dance like a nut.
“The Slacker” would have to the most obvious gypsy punk influence while “Jackie Boy” and “Heart(don’t)Beat” have a infectious guitar riffs and are quite catchy. “Ghosts” is mellow and haunting with lovely harmonies while “What The Jester Saw” is smooth and maintreamy. I also like the closing track “Bring Me The Head” with it’s guitar work and vocal harmonies.
All in all, a pretty solid and catchy first strike from this band. I’m glad the cover got me attention.

-Manny Zig Poska

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