Examples Of Twelves

Riaan Vosloo (Picture: Russ Escritt)

Things Will Be
(Impossible Ark Recordings IALP12)
Review by JJ Wheeler 

First off, I must mention that this album immediately falls into the ‘hip’ category, not least because of its personnel of distinctive, almost “underground” London-based musicians, but also because it is not available on CD. One might assume, then, that the daring band-leader and founding member of Impossible Ark, Riaan Vosloo, has adopted an ultra-modern standpoint releasing the final part of a trilogy of recordings via mp3 download only. Not the case. Although it is available (in Riaan’s own words) “as a crappy download”, the main medium chosen for this release is via the incredibly satisfying 12” Vinyl. Something about receiving music in vinyl form feels special, almost personal. The physical act of placing a round tablet of plastic onto the turntable and watching it spin as music radiates from the paper cones of your stereo speakers creates an extra spark, a connection between the listener and the music. The unknown, beyond-reach bionic streaming of numbers and codes inside of a computer just can’t compete, in my opinion.

So, what of the music? Well, as mentioned previously, you can’t go far wrong with a line-up including James Allsop, Tim Giles, Matthew Bourne, Mark Hanslip and Ross Stanley (amongst others). Allsop, Giles, Hanslip and orchestrator of this generation-defining bunch, Riaan Vosloo, in particular, seem to move in similar circles, a pool of musicians creating music more oblong than round in bands such as Twelves, Golden Age of Steam and Fraud.

This record adheres to the left-field concepts adopted by all the aforementioned, collecting them together in a larger ensemble format, which can’t have been easy. We hear Kenny Wheeler-esque themes and harmonies flowing into jaunty, odd-metred riffs with thoughtful yet unrestrained blowing before diving into a pool of open landscape sounds and back out into through-composed sections of singable yet unlikely lines propped up by angular voicings from the horn backings.

There’s also a distinct element of two cities in this. To me, I hear London and Bristol in the more beat-driven, late-night Acid Jazz style sections. The grooves are delightfully lush, with tiny amendments almost unnoticeable yet providing great interest and contour to the landscape upon further inspection. Meanwhile, the soft sounds of Hanslip’s tenor saxophone, Allsop’s bass clarinet and in particular Fulvio Sigurta’s muted trumpet whisper over the top with all richness and beauty the compositions deserve.

It feels like Riaan Vosloo has absolutely nailed this album. The concept is so incredibly strong, the writing so well-balanced (between composition and freedom of improvisation), the playing fitting the bill perfectly and the production something that all labels and artists should strive for. As the final chapter of a trilogy of works, this certainly must be a worthy culmination. It makes me desperate to get hold of the previous two works (The Way Things Were and The Way Things Are), for if they are even a tenth as good as this, they’ll be well worth the effort.

Categories: LP review

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1 reply

  1. Excellent review and I agree totally with the sentiment. I also enjoyed this album so much I got the first two also, this way I could get the whole story. In fact if Riaan asks Impossible Ark to release the three as a lovely ‘3 vinyl’ box (just like in the old days!), then I’d buy it again. In fact listening to the three in order really brings something else to the musical journey.

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