It would be just too facile to contend that the music produced by Slowly Rolling Camera is in the same ball park as, say, Air, Massive Attack or Groove Armada. For while it's partially true to assign the trip hop epithet to SRC, that shorthand does this trio (comprising, Dave Stapleton, Deri Roberts and Elliot Bennett) a disservice. The group's musical lineage undoubtedly extends way further back, even beyond Soft Machine, Weather Report or Terry Riley. The use of saxophones on tracks like the dynamic "Crossings" coupled with the satisfyingly complex arrangements found on say, "The Outlier," reach into the sheets of sound territory first explored by John Coltrane but, even better, these tunes are also augmented by intricately textured ensemble passages.
The title track especially benefits from this modal sensibility, with feisty tenor saxophone duelling with drums and keyboards. There are some outstanding points of difference too, with the killer synth/Moogy riff on "Helsinki" which binds the kaleidoscopic track together. A Coltrane-esque influence is present here too, courtesy of coruscating, soulful saxophones. "Hyperloop" is techno-rich but cruciallyunlike that of Kraftwerk, for examplederived from the presence of live musicians, as opposed to programming. Especially on Stuart McCallum's blazing guitar solo midway through the piece. Compare that to the spine-tingling beauty of "Nature's Ratio."
Despite the absence of Dionne Bennett from Juniper, whose sultry vocals adorned SRC's previous recordings, the band continues its unalloyed mission to establish and develop an irrepressible groove informed by a vital infusion of world-class extemporization. The eight tracks, all penned by Stapleton, are characterised by their accessibility, yet manage to do this without compromising one iota of artistic merit. It's a very tall order to pull off, but Juniper, succeeds on every level.
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.
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