An energetic, modal, fusion release coming out of the alternative jazz scene in Melbourne, Australia, Son of Nyx is a good album which almost succeeds in being more than that, but, frustratingly, does not achieve lift-off until the closing track, "Horns No Eyes."
Tamil Rogeon first surfaced as co-leader of the jazz and hip hop-influenced, orchestral-electronic group The Raah Project, which debuted on disc in 2009 with Score (Knowfoowl Music), recorded with a cast of thousands (well, a twenty-two horns plus seventeen strings ensemble). Son Of Nyx was made with a smaller lineup but with similarly transgressive ambitions.
On the self-produced album, Rogeon exchanges his violin for its close relation, the viola, a bigger instrument with a heavier sound. There is a relatively small repertoire for the viola in classical music and a practically non-existent jazz discography. (In this, the viola reminds one of the description so beloved by theatre PRs, "a rarely performed opera." There is a good reason why most of these are rarely performed and it is not because no-one can find the score). Rogeon's album is, until the aforementioned "Horns No Eyes," at eleven minutes its longest track but one which ends all too soon, too dynamically and texturally samey. It begs for a producer who can stand back and cut through the busy keyboards and multiplicity of ideas to create more light and shade. Rogeon has mapped out a venturesome trajectory, however, which he could fruitfully develop.
Another ambitious, but more successful, string instrument jazz-fusion album, by the way, is German violinist Johanna Burnheart's Burnheart (Ropeadope), which was released at the end of 2020. It inhabits the intersection of jazz and Berlin techno and was produced by London trumpeter and studio wizard Noel Langley. If you have not heard it yet, do yourself a favour. And look out for Norwegian violinist Ola Kvernberg's jazz and techno lightning bolt Steamdome II: The Hypogean (Grappa), coming soon to blow your mind.
House No Wheels; Band Sandals; Banished; Momus; Mount Olympus; Horns No Eyes.