Badge Époque Ensemble Nature, Man & Woman

Badge Époque Ensemble Nature, Man & Woman
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It's only been six months since Badge Époque Ensemble dropped their self-titled debut, but if their new three-track EP is any indication, they haven't lost their groove.
 
Nature, Man & Woman is just three minutes shorter than its predecessor, but it seems to move at a much faster pace. This time around, Max "Twig" Turnbull and his company of Toronto mainstays stick to their driving combo of funk, soul-jazz and psychedelia, eschewing their first album's occasional post-rock digressions.
 
Which isn't to say they lack a touch for the atmospheric. Centring on Alia O'Brien's multi-tracked flute and a deliberate beat from percussionist Ed Squires and drummer Jay Anderson, "Nature, Man & Woman" is an immersive trip in the spirit of Alice Coltrane.
 
On the whole, though, the quintet sticks to a leaner sound that calls back to the likes of Herbie Mann and Bobbi Humphrey. Their retromania doesn't feel affected, like they're strip-mining the early '70s for veins of kitsch. Instead, they seem intent on investing old genres with new energy. "Badge Theme" crackles for its entire 14-minute runtime, while "Zealous Child" turns nimbly on multiple tempo changes and a breezy vocal from Dorothea Paas.
 
Two releases in, Badge Époque Ensemble show no signs of slowing down. With any luck, 2020 will be just as fruitful for them. (Telephone Explosion)