GoGo Penguin’s Man Made Object – The True Successor to EST?

Esbjörn Svensson Trio

I’ve previously written about the Esbjörn Svensson Trio (EST) and their essential role of bringing the Jazz Piano Trio to the 21st century.

However, with the untimely death of Esbjörn Svensson in 2008, I’ve been wondering who would become a worthy successor.

I’ve written about a number of piano trios already, and there is certainly no lack of exciting new trios around. However, none of the trios I’ve written about got close to the particularity of the EST combining elements outside of Jazz into the art form, and having a focus on rhythms that come more from pop, rock, and electro. Well, maybe the US trio The Big Plus, or the Swiss Rusconi (that I both have yet to write about).

However, there is one trio that probably get’s closest to the originality of EST.

GoGo Penguin

Manchester-based GoGo Penguin, has already released two albums, Fanfares (2012), and v2.0 (2014). I started noticing them with the latter album, which I really like.

The trio is drummer Rob Turner, double bassist Nick Blacka and pianist Chris Illingworth. This order is taken directly from their website, and is inverting the usual order of giving the pianist’s name first. Well, I’m pretty sure this order is a very conscious choice, as Rob’s pulsating rhythms are really what sets this group apart from all other trios I’ve heard so far.

Man Made Object (2016 Blue Note)

This is the group’s first album on Blue Note, which should hopefully help them to get to the level of awareness they should be at.

GoGo Penguin Man Made Object 24/44 Blue Note 2016

I bought this album pretty much immediately when it came out.

The rhythmic drive, which is clearly influenced by contemporary electro music, is addictive. Combine to this the groove of Blacka’s bass, and Illingworth’ rather simple, but fascinating harmonics, and you cannot help but being drawn into the music.

My favorite tracks on this album are Weird Cat, epitomizing their style. Smart is another great example. You start out with an experimental intro and then jump pretty much immediately in a strongly syncopated groove by Turner and is joined by Blacka and Illingworth to slowly build up an entire harmonic and rhythmic landscape. Amazing.

Here’s the official video for the opening track, All Res, that should give you a pretty good idea:

 

My rating: 5 stars

You can find it here (Qobuz) or here (Prostudiomasters)

Jean Michel Jarre’s New Album: A Time Machine To Infinite Boredom

Electronica

I shouldn’t be writing this blog entry.

Every marketing expert tells you that you should have a clear positioning, and obviously my blog is very focused on Jazz and Classical music, where I hope I know more or less what I’m talking about.

In Electronica, I clearly don’t. I use Qobuz plus the free wifi connection at my gym to stream the latest electronic releases during my workout, but beyond that I really don’t have a clue.

So take what you read below with a grain of salt.

Jean-Michel Jarre

My disclaimer above wasn’t true 20 years ago. Back in high-school, together with a good friend of mine, we actually had a small home recording studio with about 7 synthesizers, run by a Commodore Amiga, a small mixing console, and a regular cassette recorder.

We were dabbling in our own little production of electronica, heavily inspired by stuff like the soundtrack to Le Grand Bleu/The Big Blue by Eric Serra, some Tangerine Dream and Vangelis-type stuff, but our real hero was Jean-Michel Jarre.

To this day, I consider Oxygène and Equinoxe great classics, and go back to them every once in a while.

Electronica 1: The Time Machine

So when I saw a new album released from him on Qobuz, I had to stream it immediately.

And then I read about who he was collaborating on this new album, his first for many many years: Air, Moby, Pete Townshend, Massive Attack, Vince Clarke (Erasure), Tangerine Dream, etc. etc. Holy cow. This had to be good, right?

Jean-Michel Jarre Electronica 1 The Time Machine 2015 Columbia

So what happened?

I listened to this entire album twice, and really had to force myself for the second time. I’m sorry, but this entire album is just plain boring. Not a single track on there that I ever want to listen to again.

And really, I can forgive quite a lot of things, obviously this is no Beethoven and I don’t expect this from a contemporary pop album (this is more pop then electronica to my ears). But boredom is unforgivable.

I’m not going to give this a formal star rating as I don’t see this as a proper review, but just wanted to put out a word of warning: don’t buy this album blindly, you may regret it.

Below the official trailer to make up your own mind.

And please feel free to contradict me!

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