Published Jun 15, 2018Australia's premier experimental instrumental ensemble is back with another album of eclectic, progressive fusion workouts that are wildly creative and technically stunning enough to stand alongside genre-smashing forbearers, Tortoise and Jaga Jazzist.
Building on the immense promise of 2016's Stateless, Tangents have honed their sound on New Bodies without reducing the expansiveness of their palette. Starting with "Lake George," the album establishes a vibe that echoes and mutates throughout its seven lengthy pieces. Crystalline vibraphone patterns dance around janked Afrobeat rhythms that pulse in and out of varying levels of complexity, along with staccato guitar lines that bounce behind achingly sombre cello and warm Rhodes-y keyboards.
"Terracotta" jazzes things up with horns and funkier, more urgent beats and piano so classy it almost smells of caviar. Things take a spacier turn on "Arteries," amping up the atmospherics without slowing their liquid cool torrent of fluttering percussion. Even the dreamy, droning "Immersion" is liberally populated with busy, skittering cymbal lines that overlap and build into a swirling whirlwind of full kit free jazz flailing.
Their eclecticism shows up strongest on ten-minute centrepiece, "Gone To Ground," which takes a darker turn, blending elements of African and Eastern music modalities with their pristine jazz chops. A few more shadow valleys like this could have propelled the album to even greater heights.
That's not to take anything away from the Broken Social Scene-on-speed-esque beauty of "Swells Under Tito" or the heavily layered twinkling majesty of album closer "Oort Cloud" — every piece on New Bodies is painstakingly detailed and full of emotion — but experimenting with tempo and mood as much as they do with every other facet of their music would give the album even more weight. Regardless, it's one of 2018's best offerings so far and an exceptional entry in its sonic field. (Temporary Residence)