All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

293

Outhouse: Straw, Sticks And Bricks

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Outhouse, part of the London-based Loop Collective, is an outfit that's willing to explore—and not just within the boundaries of jazz. After a trip to The Gambia in 2007, the band brought five Wolof drummers to the UK to record its second album, Ruhabi (Babel, 2010). For third album Straw, Sticks And Bricks the core quartet is joined by Icelandic guitarist Hilmar Jensson who adds a chordal instrument to the Outhouse lineup and so takes the tonal qualities of the band in another direction.

The Outhouse style has been described as "fierce" and "thrashy," but on Straw, Sticks And Bricks the band is generally more thoughtful and considered. The music builds slowly, layer upon layer, creating a languid and oddly relaxing sound disturbed only occasionally by more intense forays into harder and somewhat darker sonic worlds. These disturbances are timely, arriving as they do before the more laidback passages outstay their welcome. Outhouse clearly has an understanding of dynamics that not every contemporary jazz ensemble is blessed with.

Robin Fincker—founder-member of the Loop Collective and of the band—and new recruit Tomas Challenger are the Outhouse front line. Mostly it's their twin tenors that lead the tunes but Fincker doubles on clarinet and it's the tenor and clarinet combination that produces some of the most distinctive music.

Bassist Johnny Brierley and drummer Dave Smith are at the music's heart. Brierley ensures that there's a solid, reliable pulse, while Smith skitters and skips, weaving constantly evolving drum patterns. In the opening section of Challenger's "Bleak Sylvette" their relatively sparse playing creates a mysterious pulse on top of which Finker, Challenger and Jensson add their own restrained yet scary phrases. Jensson's guitar playing is at its best when it's at its most controlled. His solos and lead parts are deftly played, no doubt, but it's when he joins with Brierley and Smith in developing the underlying atmosphere, on Challenger's spooky "We Need Two" or Fincker's tense "Luna Verde," for example, that he seems most suited to the Outhouse sound.

It's not all spooky and scary: there's a cheerier, brighter, side to Outhouse too. "Golfo" epitomizes this, with some bouncy rhythms from Smith and a rounded, warm tenor part. "Reverse" features Fincker on clarinet, his playful phrasing sounding like spring birdsong.

Across its three albums Outhouse has shown itself to be a progressive band in the best sense of the term—developing, moving forward, incorporating exciting new influences into its music. Straw, Sticks And Bricks is an imaginative collection that sparkles with energy and life.

Track Listing: Kitchen In The Middle; Bleak Sylvette; Fool; Luna Verde; Golfo; Reverse; We Need Two; Alignment; Long Notes.

Personnel: Robin Fincker: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Tom Challenger: tenor saxophone; Johnny Brierley: bass; Dave Smith: drums; Hilmar Jensson: guitar.

Title: Straw, Sticks And Bricks | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Babel Label

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Ruhabi

Ruhabi

Loop Records
2010

buy
Outhouse

Outhouse

Babel Label
2008

buy

Related Articles

Read Oscar Peterson Plays CD/LP/Track Review
Oscar Peterson Plays
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 23, 2018
Read State Of The Baritone Volume 2 CD/LP/Track Review
State Of The Baritone Volume 2
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 23, 2018
Read Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume one) CD/LP/Track Review
Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume one)
by Chris May
Published: April 23, 2018
Read Friends & Family CD/LP/Track Review
Friends & Family
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 23, 2018
Read Northern Migrations CD/LP/Track Review
Northern Migrations
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Egregore CD/LP/Track Review
Egregore
by John Eyles
Published: April 22, 2018
Read "I Know Who I Am" CD/LP/Track Review I Know Who I Am
by James Nadal
Published: July 26, 2017
Read "Originals For the Originals" CD/LP/Track Review Originals For the Originals
by Paul Rauch
Published: November 20, 2017
Read "Yequm" CD/LP/Track Review Yequm
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: December 28, 2017
Read "Live In Belgium" CD/LP/Track Review Live In Belgium
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 4, 2018
Read "Cubist" CD/LP/Track Review Cubist
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 3, 2018
Read "EE-YA-GI (Stories)" CD/LP/Track Review EE-YA-GI (Stories)
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 19, 2017