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Slowly Rolling Camera: Juniper

Geno Thackara By

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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 guitar—somehow 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 own—a beauty at any speed.

Track Listing: Juniper; Helsinki; A Thousand Lights; Hyperloop; Crossings; Nature's Radio; The Outlier; Eight Days.

Personnel: 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.

Title: Juniper | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Edition Records

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Album Reviews
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Juniper

Juniper

Edition Records
2018

buy
All Things

All Things

Edition Records
2016

buy
Into the Shadow

Into the Shadow

Edition Records
2015

buy
Slowly Rolling Camera

Slowly Rolling Camera

Edition Records
2014

buy
 

Protagonist

Edition Records
2013

buy
 

Dream A Life

Edition Records
2013

buy

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