Nostalgia 77 & The Monster – “The Taxidermist”


Nostalgia 77 - "The Taxidermist"Some music has a natural swagger so that it can’t help but sound bad-ass.  This is one such album.

Benedic Lamdin (who also goes by the monicker Nostalgia 77) has made his mark on the UK music scene by performing and producing with a variety of solid music acts, ranging from R&B artist Alice Russel to the wonderful free jazz Tippett family.  On The Taxidermist, he’s collected some strong names from the UK Jazz scene, tagged them as The Monster, and created an album with hypnotic grooves and absorbing textures.

And it’s the coolest thing in the room.

Your album personnel:  Ross Stanley (organ, fender rhodes, piano), Riaan Vosloo (bass), Fulvio Sigurta (trumpet), Tim Giles (drums), Noda Fernandez (percussion), Matthew Bourne (piano), James Allsopp (tenor sax, clarinet), and Benedic Lamdin (producer, arrangements, guitar).

The album opens with the title-track and immediately illustrates that swagger.  Bassist Vosloo, who contributed the majority of the compositions, partners with Giles’s drums to set down a catchy groove so infectious it echoes throughout the album.  Stanley creates darker tones on organ in the background, which sometimes simmer up and spread outward across the surface of the song, while Sigurta and Allsopp take similar arcs on trumpet and sax, offering notes that sigh wistfully.  Eventually, Allsopp breaks off from the trajectory and begins with some skronking dissonance.  This contrast with the entrenched groove enhances it, doesn’t muffle it.

And it’s that kind of arrangement to the compositions that makes this album something more special than just another modern take on the jazz-funk motif.

Most of the tracks have a cosmic vibe to them… a mix of post-bop and avant-garde jazz, space-rock, and modern R&B.  The track “The Last Few Days” brings together some trumpet and sax pairing that speaks to the Jazz voice of the album, but drums and percussion suggest something more of an R&B groove, while piano splits the difference between jazz and rock.  From the description, the inference might be drawn that this tune is a muddled combination of genres, but, much the opposite, the song possesses an easy-going poise, developing at a casual pace, even when it offers up soft growls and a show of teeth.

“Algernon” has a thick melody full of warmth and catchy enough to get everybody humming.  “The Ignored” has the heart of Tango, and a sense of humor that would brighten up the night at late-night lounges.  “Zippy Slipper” feels its way through the dark, prowling after scattered moonlight.  A cover of Sun Ra’s “Angels & Demons At Play” embraces the cosmic spirit of the original, but brings an unhurried tempo to the mix, providing a differing environment for the stabs and jabs of sax and trumpet to thrive in.

The cover of Kenny Dorham’s “Sunrise in Mexico” is the only thing approaching conventional on this album.  With a classic Hard Bop demeanor, Stanley has some thrilling moments on rhodes when the spotlight shines his way, and adds some lively accompaniment for those times when the spotlight is directed at Sigurta and Allsopp.  The cheerful drumwork of Giles comes a close second to Stanley for this song’s top performance.

The album ends with “By the Light of Your Eyes,” a smokey ballad that features some lovely sax work by Allsopp.  Yet even when employing a lighter touch, this ensemble presents a song that hits hard, but plays it cool without even having to throw a punch.

Sorta bad-ass.

Released on the Tru Thoughts Recordings label.

Jazz from the UK.

Download a free album track, courtesy of the artists and label, either by hitting the download button in the audio player above or by following this link to the artist’s bandcamp page.

Available at eMusic.  Available at Amazon: CD | MP3