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Hackney Colliery Band: Sharpener

Nick Davies By

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East London's Hackney Colliery Band continue to reinvent the brass band sound for the 21st century with Sharpener. Comprised of trumpets, trombones, saxophones, sousaphone, marching percussion and electronics, the band are as inspired by contemporary rock and electronica as New Orleans marching bands and traditional British brass bands, to which their name pays homage. Their shows are raucous, loud and energetic with the added surprise of audience participation.

Since their debut release in 2012, the 9-piece have blown their way into the public consciousness amassing fans worldwide and reinventing the brass band sound for the modern age.

Sharpener is the band's third release and builds on the previous two releases: 2012's Hackney Colliery Band and 2013's Common Decency, featuring nine original compositions alongside a trio of left-field covers in the shape of Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box," Kwabs' "Wrong or Right" and Three Trapped Tigers' "Cramm." A powerhouse of a brass band record, based in the tradition of British Brass Band music but with a twenty first century feel.

"Jump then Run" is a bright opening track played with a soft, subtle approach and not the high velocity sound that has become the trademark of the band, it wets the listener's appetite for what is to come. "Gather Your Wits" is a funky number with all the instruments and electronics, driving the beat and sound in the way only the Hackney Colliery Band can do.

The band move into the their cover of Kwabs' "Wrong or Right" and, as with all the covers they have done previously like Toto's "Africa," it's handled with respect to the original but with that bit of magic that the band seem to conjure up with these tunes. Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box" and Three Trapped Tigers' "Cramm" are also delivered in a similar, powerful, driven and loud manner.

The rest of the tunes such as "The Morning" are melodic but with a beat at home in a modern dance tune which sometimes leads the listener to forget that it's brass band music.

Exciting little surprises like "Timeplace" with that big, bold brass band sound before the trumpet takes over with a rhythm reminiscent of traditional Miles Davis. Beautifully played, revealing an accomplished player in his own right.

The Hackney Colliery Band are not just about heavy brass sounds; tracks "The Morning," "Reawake" and "Bread and Circuses" with that familiar circus tune to start off, shows their softer side and is an interlude to an album full of bold sounding music.

Track Listing: Jump then Run, Gather Your Wits, Wrong or Right, The Morning, When You Know, Sharpener, Timelapse, Reawake, Cramm, It’s Normally Bigger, Heart-Shaped Box, Bread and Circuses

Personnel: Nick Ashwood -Trumpet, Steve Pretty -Trumpet/electronics/voice, Tom Richards, Frank Walden, Tamar Osborn, Jamie Harris – Tenor Saxophone, Mike Lesirge, Ollie Weston – Alto Saxophone, Magnus Dearness, Jonathan Sweeney, Steve Thompson – Trombone, Ed Ashby – Tuba, Jeff Miller – Sousaphone, Olly Blackman - Bass drum/percussion/drum machine, Luke Christie -Snare drum/percussion

Title: Sharpener | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Veki Records


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