Ian Simmonds Return to X

Though it’s unlikely that you’ll find his music filed in such a section, Ian Simmonds is a true contemporary jazz talent. The Brighton-based musician and producer has been on the scene for some time, founding acid-jazz band the Sandals in the early ’90s and producing early tracks for the likes of Pressure Drop and Leftfield. More recently, Simmonds was the man in Juryman, recording tracks for labels including Ninja Tune, Pussyfoot and SSR. An impressive history, but it’s with the two albums he’s recorded for Germany’s Studio !K7 that Ian Simmonds truly shines. Return to X sees him expanding on sounds and stories explored in 1998’s Last States of Nature. The whole debate of electronic versus organic is tossed right out the window when listening to his work, as Simmonds uses a sampler, sparse instrumentation and simple arrangements to bring passions and voices to life, creating a cinematic jazz that is all his own. The man also has one hell of an ear for less than obvious melodies. Witness "Fathom’s Down," a moody, dark jazz number filled with strings, bass, breaks and the trademark spinet. This one would be as at home on a nu-lounge comp as it would the soundtrack to Vampyros Lesbos. "No Bamboo" runs with heavier beats and moodier moods while "Swingin Millie" is a boppy, bluesy jazz number where bass, snare, spinet and those lower than low horn notes reign supreme. "Blues for V.C." is almost militaristic in feel, reminding of a climactic moment in a war film, while "Jet," contrary to the pace suggested by its title, adopts a tension-filled, medieval classical feel. My absolute favourite, for its incredibly visual and present sound, is "The Marita." Listen and discover the gift of Ian Simmonds. (!K7)