Nucleus / Under The Sun / Be With Records – By Cal Gibson

Super review by Cal Gibson, of The Secret Soul Society and Scruffy Soul Recordings.

Three more thrill-seeking missives from the mind of Ian Carr get the fantastic Be With Records spit and polish-up they deserve, as Under The Sun, Alleycat and Labyrinth join the previously re-issued Roots in what amounts to a wholesale re-examination of a fair chunk of the illustrious jazzman’s storied career. Needless to say, all three albums are chock full of funkified fusionistic jazzual manouevres: genre-bending, twisting and turning, shaping the future from the remnants of the past. I’ve honed in on Under The Sun, perhaps the most low-key of the three (check the album cover – downbeat, melancholic, moody as hell) but a personal favourite that contains some real gems from Carr’s wonderful back catalogue.

Pastoral Graffiti is a track that’s been soundtracking the last few months round our way. Slow, low and simply beautiful, it’s a piece of music that radiates longing, an elegy for the disappearance of youth, the tears of the dispossessed, wiped clean by a melody so languorous you could bathe in it. Tragedy turned inside out, the warmth generated by the musicians and their harmonic devices offering solace and joy in time of great need – just pure beauty on wax.

New Life twinkles with hope on the other hand: imagination pressed into service for the summoning up of something worth fighting for. The horns are urgent, focused, jamming over the tumbling beats and flanged and phased guitar licks. New monuments to creation are being dragged into place, fresh gods are conjured into being with the flick of the plectrum and the deep breath of the horn. Electric keys drop down halfway through: exploration undertaken aurally – a heavy, heavy, heavy bassline takes over and you’re off spinning into the future groove.

The suite of three themes on the album’s flipside keeps up the ridiculously high quality. Feast Alfresco stalks through an urban soundscape: slinking, lithe, brass riffs ominously funked, bass holding back, growling with desire. A guitar solo set to stun, wah wah’d and windswept, notes flying free over the main theme – absolute soundtrack vibes from start to finish. Filmic and fresh as hell even today.

Rites Of Man closes proceedings and it`s ten minutes of considered compositional techniques, abstracted and inviting: warm Rhodes riffs beckoning the listener inside for a wander through Carr’s unconscious. Long horn lines develop the motif, guitar sliding underneath a la John McLaughlin: shades of In A Silent Way without a doubt, but switched-up, turbo-charged, freighted with deeper meaning and rhythmic challenge. Ten minutes fly by and you’re done: a whirlwind trip through another highlight from one of the UK’s finest musicians of the past fifty years. Be With Records have the keenest of ears for what’s hot and what’s not: Carr and Nucleus are always pure fire.

Under The Sun, Labyrinth, and Alleycat, by Ian Carr`s Nucleus, are all available to pre-order care of Be With Records. 

You can hear some fine soulful musical selections from Cal Gibson, on the first Tuesday of every month, between 4 – 6PM UK time, on his Holy Rollers Radio Show, for Universal Rhythms. If you can’t catch it live, you`ll can find it archived here.

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