The really interesting thing about this record is the way it tethers, grounds, its free-er elements, to a tight groove. Balancing the two. This was the aim of the project, led by Emma-Jean Thackray – one of the breakout names from Giles Peterson`s Brownswood Bubblers – to, musically, put taoism – UM 음 YANG 양 – into practice. Something the set, laid down in one hit at Night Dreamer`s Haarlem facility, certainly succeeds in.
The press release talks about having “the cerebral and the physical” in harmony, but it all sounds very physical to me. Especially for drummer Dougal Taylor, percussionists Crispin Robinson and Dwayne Kilvington, and Ben Kelly on sousaphone – effectively the b-line – `cos they’re basically banging it out – non-stop – keeping time, not missing a beat, for 19 minutes straight. Fuck, they must have been exhausted. Elated, elevated, but exhausted.
Like Carlos Nino and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson`s recent Chicago Waves, UM 음 YANG 양 is also a spiritual jam, one that moves from a gentle shake, to crashing, conga-ed, crescendo, climax even – since all involved come together – and a final calm, cleansed re-entry. The rhythm section rolling out an impossibly funky swagger above which the remaining players get to fly. Energy peaking, rising and falling, rising and falling, Soweto Kinch`s reeds making way for Lyle Barton`s Rhodes, and Emma-Jean`s chants and trumpet. Each instrument given its chance to express. The chaos cordial, space given for everyone to speak. The horns may spiral off, telling the same story from differing points of view – but they are headed toward the same, unified, conclusion.
You can order a copy of Emma Jean Thackray`s UM 음 YANG 양 directly from Night Dreamer.