The Connoisseur’s of freeform Jazz are back! Food, comprised of British saxophonist Iain Ballamy and Norwegian drummer Thomas Strønen, have once again shown us that music and has absolutely no bounds with their tasty new album – This is Not a Miracle. But does this dish carry that same strong flavour that we are accustomed to in their previous works?
I’ll be honest; I haven’t spent a great deal of time in the Jazz pool. With my limited experiences stretching as far back as a Miles Davis phase I went through in high school to impress a girl, and the second more recent experience found somewhere in Kendrick Lamar’s album – To Pimp a Butterfly. But there was something about the tagline ‘British/Norwegian Freeform/Experimental Jazz duo’ that caught my attention. It could be traced back to something deep and meaningful like my high school love… Then again it could just be that their band description looks like the title of a Dr. Seuss – Music edition book that hasn’t been released yet. So with an open mind and an empty stomach, I bomb dived straight into Food’s latest album – This is Not a Miracle.
The best part about music is that it can become your own personal teleportation device. One minute you’re at a house party with all of your friends about to sink the enemy in beer pong, next thing you know, you’re teleported into a dark, dirty men’s bathroom stall with sweaty palms, weak knees and heavy arms and also your name is Rabbit and you live in a trailer park. The moment I pressed play on the opening track ‘First Sorrow’, I was transported deep into a dark jungle. Primal guitar chords echo through the distance as the thumping of drums pulse through the ground and into your body. It makes you feel as though something was building, something was coming through the darkness, and it was. Enter Track 2.
‘Where Dry Desert Ends’ is where the momentum really picks up. With a song this powerful so early on in the track list, I was left hungry for more. This song really shows off Strønen’s technicality as a drummer and creative artist. His disjointed, yet rhythmically propelling drumming style is accompanied perfectly with Iain Ballamy’s long-winded tenor sax, which gives the song a lot more structure compared to the rest of the album.
I made my way through the next few songs, title track ‘This is Not a Miracle‘ and for sure the standout track ‘The Concept of Density’. I was very surprised to note that the title track was a bit of a let down, for whatever reason, just didn’t seem to have the same spice as some of the others. Maybe it was intentional? Maybe the aim was to keep the song low and minimal, let it simmer (last cooking reference I promise) before building back up and emphasizing the dominance and power of the next track.
‘The Concept of Density’ starts off with Strønen’s train-like chattering on the drums, accompanied by some beautifully weighted notes from Ballamy. As I started to become lost in the momentum of the track, I was brought straight back out of the trance through some striking chords by guitarist, Christian Fennesz. It’s amazing how balanced all three musician’s sound in this track, with each one having their own time in the spotlight as the other two complement. It’s hard to say whether it was the ambient soundscape they have created, or if it was the five coffee’s all kicking in at once, but this track had me in another dimension.
The next few songs played through some interesting concepts, proving that you don’t need lyrics to express ideas and emotion. However, nothing really stood out to me over the last handful of songs. I think the ‘experimental’ side of the band took over a bit more than anything. That’s not to say that the tracks were duds in any way, it was more so mood-setting background music, something I would put on if I were trying to impress a lady friend with my ‘vague, yet complex ‘ persona.
Overall, I think Food has once again shown us that music is infinite. No matter how many new bands, artists, songs or albums emerge daily; true musicians always find innovative ways to express themselves. I think its safe to say that even though Food have filled me up with this tasty morsel, I definitely won’t be waiting 20 minutes before jumping back into that Freeform Jazz Pool (Okay that one was pretty forced).
This is Not a Miracle is available for digital download on iTunes, or you can find out more about Food through the ECM records label. In the meantime, here is a live performance of the duo, with Fennesz featuring.
Album: This is Not A Miracle
Label: ECM Records
Genre: Electronic, Jazz
This review was written by Isaac.