Mildlife – groovy spacey jazz, funk and disco

Mildlife - PhasePhase is the debut album by Australian quartet, Mildlife released on 23rd February via Research Records.

Mildlife use elements of spacey jazz, funk, psych and disco to produce groovy sunkissed sounds.  Hard to define but easy to listen to, the album constantly expands and refines itself with each track. Space jazz, funk, disco. The songs work well together. The band cite a wide range of influences on their music, from Herbie Hancock to Can, and it shows.

The six track debut album kicks off with the wonderful masterpiece that is ‘The Magnificent Moon’.

Bassist Tom Shanahan comments: “The Magnificent Moon feels like the veteran journeyman to the rest of the album. I’m not sure if that’s because it was written first or because it seems to know what it wants and has a more considered direction. It never really second guesses itself except for maybe just before the outro when he realises he may have journeyed too far and his space suit has a hole in it. But then he just jams some gum in the hole and gets on with it anyway.”

 

Mildlife take the musical canvas, rip the lids off the paint tins, and throw vibrant splashes of colour into kaleidoscopic jams. Old friends, the Australian four-piece bonded over the desire to push musical boundaries, developing tight live shows bolstered by wild improvisation and a debut record that mines jazz, psych and disco for its irresistible groove. A melting pot of musical sensations, Mildlife combine progressive 70s sounds with electronic krautrock, backed by a mixture of rhythmic funk, house, and dream-pop, to create an addictive atmosphere that’s illustrated perfectly by their first single ‘The Magnificent Moon’, out November 3rd via Research Records. The single comes as an introduction to their highly anticipated debut LP ‘Phase’ due out early next year.

Taking cues from artistic pioneers such as Can and Herbie Hancock, creating a Mildlife song is a constant process of teasing and tugging, expanding and refining. But Mildlife are adamantly not a studio band. Between 2014 and 2015 they took a year off playing shows to figure out how they could produce as much of their music live as they possibly could without losing its complexity. “It makes the performance, the composition, more malleable,” says guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Adam Halliwell.

Bassist Tom Shanahan adds “It feels more authentic. The energy can be in the song rather than sitting on top of it. We wanted to leave a lot of room for improvisation.”

Phase is an exceptional debut album from Melbourne-based Mildlife.

James Taylor Quartet & The Rochester Cathedral Choir – The Rochester Mass

In a world

The Rochester Mass by James Taylor Quartet & the Rochester Cathedral Choir is released on 4th December on Cherry Red Records
The Rochester Mass by James Taylor Quartet & the Rochester Cathedral Choir

where big business record labels attempt to quash risk and in the process smother originality and experimentation, thank the lord for the continuing strength of the real independent labels and re-emergence of Cherry Red Records.

Since humble beginnings saw four twenty-something young men getting together to relieve the boredom and jam some old 1960s theme tunes around the, not-so fashionable for the time Hammond organ, The James Taylor Quartet very soon found themselves recording a John Peel Session and releasing a debut mini album to critical acclaim.  Sixties theme tunes soon turned to Hammond organ jazz – which is nice! – the likes of Jimmy Smith & Jimmy McGriff; and with the release of  the Theme to Starsky & Hutch, JTQ found themselves up to their butterfly collared shirts in the Acid Jazz scene.

For over 25 years James Taylor has lead JTQ through several genres, many albums and more line-ups you can shake a stick at,  as he continues to be the only surviving member from the band’s original ‘Blow Up‘ session.  For their latest album, James Taylor has stumbled upon something different, interesting and as far as I am aware, very unique. In fact, all the elements I suggested the big business record labels will steer well away from.

Following successful concerts at London’s Festival Hall and Rochester Cathedral, where The James Taylor Quartet performed live with the forty-strong Rochester Cathedral Choir, The Rochester Mass was recorded in just one day and is released in full by Cherry Red Records on Friday 4th December.

The Rochester Mass is a coming together of JTQ’s distinguished style of British acid jazz funk and the beautiful choral singing of a 40-strong cathedral choir.  The album is comprised of 10 tracks and begins with Sanctus Pt 1.  The song is a perfect introduction to the album (especially for those unfortunate enough not to have witnessed the live performance) as it gently and subtly brings the Rochester Cathedral Choir into what otherwise appears to be another smooth JTQ funky Hammond organ tune.  Then Sanctus Pt 2 begins.  The Hammond organ is reminiscent of an early 1970s Deodata heavier funk take, on jazz funk.  With a flute, the song swirls around like leaves in an Autumn breeze; and the song is filled with young choral voices. The fusion is complete. The album is a linear ride – a concept album preaching to the unconverted from both sides of the fence.

With The Rochester Mass, James Taylor has taken a step into the unknown. Obviously, some of the JTQ diehard fans aren’t going to be as excited about this as they might be with another straightforward jazz funk album, but that is exactly why an album like this needs to be appreciated and credit given to James Taylor for attempting such a fusion of two completely different music genres.  Whether for personal satisfaction or not, the fact is this is not music for comfort zones.  Whether the album receives as much critical acclaim as the live concerts that took place earlier this year, it’s comforting to know that music will always be more interesting when it challenges, experiments and looks forward rather than to the past.

The Rochester Mass has James Taylor not sitting on the fence, but trying to burn the fence down; and who wants to sit on a burning fence!?

The Rochester Mass by James Taylor Quartet & the Rochester Cathedral Choir is released on 4th December on Cherry Red Records.