If Slowly Rolling Camera isn't already working on a film score or two, then some director somewhere is really missing out. The Welsh outfit occupies a beautifully lush spot in the music world at the intersection of jazz, trip-hop and soul-soothing electronica. It's sweeping yet intimate stuff, vivid and emotional on a widescreen scale in hi-def. This was true for their first two full- lengths as well, but Juniper shows them making a core change and producing their finest outing to date.
That's nothing against former member Dionne Bennett, whose leisurely croon helped add a rich R&B angle to their self-titled debut (Edition, 2014) and its followup All Things (Edition, 2016), plus the odd single or EP in between. The group's sound was first conceived as a kind of modern-age instrumental fusion, however, and they're clearly invigorated by returning to the looser possibilities of those less song-based roots. The trio of Dave Stapleton (keys), Elliott Bennett (drums) and Deri Roberts (electronics and sound design)aided by a crew of top-notch Edition Records colleagues on horns, bass and guitarsomehow comes out both more futuristic and organic than ever.
Stapleton's floating synth weaves a vista of swirls and shadings without going retro or using overly obvious tones. Between his atmospheres and Elliott's brisk skittering, the pieces go from easy ambience to dreamy mid-tempo most gracefully. For his part Roberts doesn't stand out as an instrumental voice, but provides a vast soundstage for the others with subtly evocative colors around the edges.
The spell they weave shows an expert ear for well-crafted dynamics, yet the result flows as naturally as flowers opening to the sun. "Helsinki" is buoyed by the reeds in a calmly majestic way; the jittery "Hyperloop" gives Stuart McCallum a spot to turn up the heat with some smoldering guitar. In other spots they use a full group of horns for mashed-up Motown patterns; see the loose extended jam of "Crossings" and "The Outlier" with its jagged game of rhythm hopskotch. Vastly expansive or close as a whisper, Slowly Rolling Camera offers a warm immersive experience in a niche all their owna beauty at any speed.
Juniper; Helsinki; A Thousand Lights; Hyperloop; Crossings; Nature's Radio; The Outlier; Eight Days.
Dave Stapleton; keyboards; Deri Roberts: electronics; Elliot Bennett: drums; Stuart McCallum: guitar; Neil Yates: trumpet; Nicolas Kummert: saxophones; Mark Lockheart: saxophones; Aidan Thorne: double bass; Tom Barford: tenor & soprano saxophone; James Copus: trumpet; Sam Glaser: alto saxophone.