557799 is the fifth album from Serbian jazz fusion quartet EYOT since its debut, Horizon, was released in 2011. It follows on from 2017's Innate (produced by Steve Albini in Chicago) and builds on that album's mix of prog, hard rock and jazz. But this time composer and pianist Dejan Ilijic draws on Balkan myths and traditions, composers such as John Williams and Bruckner, and Sting's album The Soul Cages. The result is another impressive, often beautiful and always intriguing set of original compositions.
This time around, production duties are handled by Jim Barr and Ilijic, and the quartet is augmented on "Dodola" by Pete Judge and Jake McMurchie. The album takes its name from the closing track, which in turn takes its name from the rhythms on which it's based5/8, 7/8 and 9/8rhythms which are central not only to this track but to much of the Balkan music which inspired Eyot and which band leader Ilijic describes as "the epitome of life and history which has always been turbulent in this part of the world." The shifting rhythms certainly reflect this turbulence, the odd-numbered patterns giving the tune an angularity which disrupts the potentially smooth flow of the melody while the wordless vocal in the final third adds tension.
The preceding tracks are by-and-large a gentler, more reflective, set of tunesalthough much of "Heartbeat" takes on a harder-hitting, more prog-influenced, sound after its mellow first section. "Dodola," the album opener, is representative of this sound: a flowing melody, centred on the piano, is backed by Milos Vojvodic's dynamic drums and the soft-edged funk of Marko Stojijkovic's bass; the whole is a readily-accessible and upbeat composition which passes by much faster than its nine-minute plus running time may suggest. "Linen" (inspired by the works of Serbian composer Stevan Mokranjac) is even gentler, its opening melody creating a lovely, but more melancholy, atmosphere. Another fine addition to the Eyot discography.
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