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Dinosaur: Wonder Trail

Roger Farbey By

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This is the long-awaited follow-up to Dinosaur's 2016 debut album Together, As One. But the de facto debut by this quartet actually took place on Laura Jurd's first, highly inventive, album Landing Ground released in 2012 on the Chaos Collective label, which she co-founded. In 2015 she released a second album under her own name, the pop/rock-infused Human Spirit with elegant vocals from Lauren Kinsella. Jurd and her fellow Dinosaur band members all graduated from London's Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, where she now teaches composition. She has admitted to being a big fan of Miles Davis, but her fluid playing style is nearer to that of jazz rock progenitor Ian Carr.

Whilst Dinosaur's Together, As One received universal plaudits, it was always going to be a challenge to produce the proverbial "difficult second album." Not in this case however. Leader/composer Jurd with her band of co-virtuosos have now pulled-off what might be considered a masterpiece. "Renewal (Part I)" opens with a dramatic crescendo, virtually reversing the last note of The Beatles's "A Day In The Life." The track is dominated by Elliot Galvin's synthesizer arrangements which seem boundless in their creativity. "Quiet Thunder" is a classic example of tension and release, beginning subtly and heralded by an insouciantly fleeting bass lick, then exploding into a convulsively heavy riff. Some of the tracks are augmented by uncredited vocals. "Shine Your Light" benefits from ethereal background singing, and the folk-inspired "Set Free," adorned with simple but poignant lyrics, is affectingly moving. Jurd's pastiche trumpet line on "Old Times' Sake" almost channelling "There Is A Happy Land," is rapidly juxtaposed with Conor Chaplin's ferocious fuzz bass, to dazzling effect.

One difference from Dinosaur's previous album is that Elliot Galvin is credited with playing synthesizers (in the plural) only, as opposed to his usual array of instruments encompassing synthesizer, organ, keyboard, piano and toys. However, even with this ostensibly restricted focus, there's no perceivable loss of harmonic or tonal colour, Galvin's presence being as vital and ingenious as ever; exemplified by his contribution to the majestic "Swimming" for proof. On the Milesian "Renewal (Part I)" Jurd's sublime trumpet is interspersed with Galvin's pyrotechnic electronica in a kind of "fours" from hell. The closer is "And Still We Wonder" with mesmerizingly chanting voices, Terry Riley-esque accompaniment and more vibrant trumpet soloing. With constant (and addictive) replays, the kaleidoscopic characteristic of the tunes is apparent, revealing ever-more enchanting moments. These musicians know exactly what they're doing and their natural inclination is to push the envelope rather than regurgitate old tropes, and for that fact alone Miles surely would have approved. This isn't merely Jurd's best album to date, it's indubitably one of the best albums of the year.

Track Listing: Renewal (Part I); Quiet Thunder; Shine Your Light; Forgive, Forget; Old Times' Sake; Set Free; Swimming; Renewal (Part II); And Still We Wonder.

Personnel: Laura Jurd: trumpet, synthesizer; Elliot Galvin: synthesizers; Conor Chaplin: electric bass; Corrie Dick: drums.

Title: Wonder Trail | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Edition Records

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