BUZZARD LOPE — Pyrrhic Victories

Buzzard Lope are a talented jazz/alternative trio.  Perhaps named after a hokum dance – and a track from Bessie Jones back catalogue –  their tastes are tinged by the songwriting of pianist and singer Roger Illingworth,  the jazz double bass of Adam Jarvis and the distinctive stylings of Brazilian drummer Raphael Saib.

Buzzard Lope are set to release their stunningly elusive debut album Pyrrhic Victories on Monday 18 November. Out on the Bedford outfits’ own label Lost Toys Records, the album is a respectful nod to the husky romanticism of Tom Waits combined with the band’s own brand of musical dexterity.

We had an early listen:

Buzzard Lope shortPeak of Evolution’ sighs as it slowly disrobes. When it gets warmed up – it starts to get it’s own way. That slack bass wobbles rather than twangs, Gill Sandell’s accordion sleazes. The entire piece sweats like a mature cheese. And Roger Illingworth’s voice pouts. This is as smoky as blue Gitanes. And that clarinet-sound (is it played on a synthesizer?) Well, it’s as ripe as a cherry.

Walk Don’t Run’ is a bit wobbly. With a sad string that hovers over it like a shroud.  Roger’s piano keys are gently touched – and the drums ( Raphael Saib ) only just flutter the skins. The rhythm of the  ‘Blue Arsed Fly’ stumbles and knocks things over. The vocals add tissue paper texture to the sounds – and these gradually form into a colourful flowering. Sunlight comes with a joyful guitar from Pete Thompson and some clean pipes.

Anyone who has even attempted a degree in art history will know of EH Gombrich. “The Dry Eyes of E H Gombrich” steps as slowly as a funeral cortège and burns an empty void deep inside your sad heart.  “East By East” is experimental. Like a big tube of jelly-tots being spilled onto the lino.

‘Jugged Hare’ seems important.  As if the song acts as a focal point for the whole project. A fluster of drums greets a bass – and this wraps loosely around the whole mix of sooty, dusty percussive sounds. The dark voice is laced by female fantasy. Discovering this song is like finding yourself a velvet cushion to sit on. But when you use it, you realize that it is full of broken glass.

The final track ‘Blue Bow’ is the most bluesy piece on this album. It’s bitter and melancholic  It feels a bit too raw and honest. Like a friend finally telling you what went wrong. With the minimalist production, the sounds yearn to escape – like birds from a storeroom.

– © Neil_Mach October 2013 –



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