by Ian Mann
September 16, 2011
The "Match & Fuse" compilation is a handy reminder of the abilities of these two highly talented young bands
WorldService Project / Synkoke
“Match & Fuse EP”
The young London based band WorldService Project, led by keyboardist and composer Dave Morecroft were one of the big successes of the 2011 Brecon Jazz Festival. Combining youthful energy with Morecroft’s already extraordinarily sophisticated compositional skills their Sunday lunchtime set was a real eye opener/cobweb clearer.
September 2011 sees the British quintet teaming up with the equally youthful Norwegian band Synkoke for a series of gigs in both the UK and Norway under the ” Match & Fuse” banner. Both groups will play a set each with all ten musicians eventually combining for a climactic shredding session/blowout. Later in the year and into 2012 WSP will be collaborating with German group Schulbus and it is planned that there will be further “Match & Fuse” collaborations teaming WSP with French, Irish and Italian groups.
This six track limited edition EP is divided equally between the music of WSP and Synkoke and will be on sale during the current tour. The three WSP tunes are sourced from their début CD, the aptly named “Relentless” ( Brook Records, 2010) with the Synkoke selections coming from their newly released second album “The Ideologist” (Kokeplate Records) which was produced by Royksopp guitarist Kato Adland.
The mini album roars out of the blocks with Synkoke’s “The Red Song” a slice of raw energy in the mould of the UK’s Led Bib featuring the turbo-driven sax of Erik Nerheim alongside the equally frenetic guitar of Ole Adland (Kato’s brother? one wonders/surmises) and the keyboards of Kristian Harnes- I’m presuming it’s also the latter that generates the choral effect that sometimes permeates the tune, soaring over the sonic carnage beneath. Ellen Andrea Wang (Norway’s answer to Ruth Goller, perhaps) on electric bass and Kurt Andre Aase on drums form a kinetic rhythm section that drives the group relentlessly forward. This should be pretty visceral stuff in the live environment.
Synkoke’s second offering “Our Solar System” begins in the same punk/jazz continuum with bludgeoning unison riffs before drifting off into the deep space of more freely improvised territory. Not that the energy levels are significantly reduced, Synkoke still play with a fearful intensity, as if their lives depended upon it. The group’s myspace page includes quotes along the lines of “the kind of prog jazz Shostakovich dreamed of playing” and of the group’s dream of “blending Arvo Part and Motorpsycho”-plus of course the obligatory nod to Radiohead. It’s all in here somewhere, there’s a keen intelligence behind Synkoke’s industrial strength noise.
The layered sounds at the beginning of “The Blue Song” seems to acknowledge fellow Norwegians Jaga Jazzist before mutating into a molten improvised central section before concluding with spacey, ethereal bleepings. Some may dismiss Synkoke as mere noise merchants but, as with Led Bib and others, closer listening reveals hidden depths. There’s much to enjoy here and the intensity of the music suggests that their live appearances will be pretty dynamic.
WorldService Project are easier to get a handle on, partly because I’ve heard them before and partly because their tunes are (relatively) more conventionally structured and less obviously “punk jazz”. Not that there’s anything tame or predictable about WSP’s music, Dave Morecroft’s event filled compositions offer plenty of dramatic twists and turns and dynamic contrasts that team the maverick intensity of Django Bates with an earthier funk element. Both live and on record WSP combine great fun with an already awesome level of musical sophistication.
Their opening salvo “Hero Of The Bus” proved to be a great live favourite at Brecon and incorporates all the dizzying changes of pace that characterise the group’s style. Morecroft’s synth combines with the punchy horns of saxophonist Tim Ower and trombonist Raph Clarkson as Conor Chaplin (electric bass) and Neil Blandford (drums) negotiate the rhythmic demands with ease. With urgent solos from Ower on sax and Morecroft on keyboards this is great stuff and enormous fun.
“The Screamer” kicks off with clipped funk, crazily racing horn lines and a hint of ska before a more pensive central section featuring trilling Rhodes and lyrical electric bass. It’s sometimes reminiscent of 70’s Brit fusion before the horns and Morecroft’s whistling synthesiser raise the energy levels again and Blandford’s drums drag us back into a reprise of the opening section. This is a typically eventful and inventive piece of Morecroft writing. Synkoke may have more in the way of visceral power but WSP are in many ways the more interesting of the two bands with their habitual experimentations with style, pace and dynamics. The potential of the band, and of Morecroft in particular, is enormous. I’ve compared Morecroft to Django Bates before, his event laden writing and feverish keyboard soloing have something of the character of the young Django.
Let’s hope that in the long term he can make a similarly key contribution to the music we call British Jazz.
“Back So Soon”, the last track on this compilation, also closed the group’s live set at Brecon. Combining funk with counterpoint horns and dizzying stop/start unison passages the piece just bristles with energy and ideas. Clarkson lays down some dirty sounding trombone and Owers solos joyously, initially with just Blandford for company. Live the tune is a feature for the drummer and there’s also an element of that here along with the audience teasing false endings that characterised the Brecon performance.
The “Match & Fuse” compilation is a handy reminder of the abilities of these two highly talented young bands and would perhaps make a nice concert souvenir. However I’d urge anyone reading this to invest in the full length albums, certainly in WSP’s case I can personally recommend it.
The Norwegian leg of the tour has already been completed but I’d suggest that curious UK readers, particularly fans of Led Bib, Acoustic Ladyland, Polar Bear etc. check out these double headers.
This is not a pairing that’s likely to be repeated any time soon.
However if you miss out on this WSP have a more extensive UK tour lined up later in the year. Dates are listed below;
WSP/Synkoke “Match & Fuse” double headers;
21 September Newcastle - Star and Shadow Cinema
22 September Birmingham - The Yardbird
23 September London - Vortex Jazz Club
WSP U.K. Tour
8th October - Marsden Jazz Festival, 4pm
9th October - Pave Bar, Hull, 2pm
10th October - Sela Bar, Leeds, 8pm
13th October - SoundCellar, Poole, 8pm
15th October - Café Bar Contemporary, Nottingham, 9pm
16th October - Latest Music Bar, Brighton, 8pm
19th October - Talking Heads, Southampton, 8pm
21st October - Torfaen Jazz Club, 8pm
26th October - 606 Jazz Club, London, 8pm
4th November - D Fly, Cheltenham, 8pm