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Geography is the fourth release by Lob , following their 1997 cassette debut Megaphonics and the CDs Lob! and Live From The Astrogarage (both on their own death bunny label). The London-based six-piece continue to mature nicely, blending their disparate influences into an intriguingly eclectic but satisfying whole. Although there are plenty of 21st century elements in their music, much of the time it is easy to detect a collective admiration for 70s fusion; their use of wah-wah will immediately give many of you a flashback to electric Miles. But Paul Simmonds “found sounds” (mainly, samples of speech) give the music a contemporary edge and air of unpredictability that the instrumentals alone might lack.
Pete Marsh’s bass and Andy Cato’s drums are the solid foundation upon which Lob is built. The bass is particularly prominent in the mix and commands attention. Marsh & Cato repeatedly provide a funky rhythmic backdrop over which are added washes of sound plus solos. Often, the entire group establishes an equilibrium that no-one is prepared to break, and pieces gently fade rather than climax.
Maybe unsurprisingly, the track with Lol Coxhill (I won’t attempt to give the title!) is the longest, the best and the least typical here. Coming from outside, Coxhill challenges the group consensus; his soloing is more abrasive and confrontational, and takes more chances than Littlejohn, Watson or Scacco. If they play with the rest of the group, Coxhill is happy to play against them. The music is enlivened by his presence. Conversely, Lob provide an excellent context for his playingsymbiosis.
Lob are on an upward arc. This album will be a significant milestone in their progress. Watch this space.
Personnel: Andy Cato, drums; Pete Marsh, basses, percussion; Paul Simmonds, atmospherics, found sounds; Ralph Littlejohn, tenor and alto saxophone, percussion, loops; Ian R. Watson, trumpet, electric guitar, percussion; Debra Scacco, flute; Lol Coxhill, soprano saxophone (on 6)..