Standards, Vol. IV

Standards, Vol. IV

by The National Jazz Trio of ScotlandThe National Jazz Trio of Scotland

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Overview

The fourth non-holiday album (counting an obscure debut CD-R) from the misleadingly named National Jazz Trio of Scotland is another exercise in carefully considered minimalism. The project is masterminded by Glaswegian musician Bill Wells, who has roots in jazz improvisation but is also associated with indie rock groups such as Teenage Fanclub and BMX Bandits. Wells composes the songs from meticulously arranged samples of viola, guitar, bass, and keyboards, never piling on too many sounds at once. The arrangements are deceptively simple, but they're quite intricate, sometimes layering rhythms at different tempos, as on opener "Quick to Judge (Don't Be So)." While the group's previous albums have featured several lead vocalists, Standards, Vol. IV spotlights Kate Sugden, with two songs featuring backup from additional singers Gerard Black and Aby Vulliamy (who will be leading future volumes). Sugden's singing style is clear and uncomplicated, delivering words at steady intervals and seemingly expressing the lyrics at face value. "Move" starts out sounding so delicate and intimate that it's almost uncomfortable, yet the arrangement sounds strangely synthetic, rather than the rustic, close-miked feel one might expect from something described as "intimate." A splash of bossa nova rhythm livens things up a little, but the lyrics remain a bit sullen. The refreshing "Passing By" adds some soft, pattering beats to a more relaxed keyboard drift and wisps of rainy day viola. "Sog" unexpectedly breaks into a galloping dance beat, shaded by cymbal rolls, pizzicato notes, and lush guitar strums. "A Quiet Life" is even more surprising, starting with vocal rounds from the group's three singers before exploding into a raucous big-band sample -- easily the jazziest song the group have produced yet, as well as the furthest from "minimalism" they've ventured. The album concludes with "Far from You," a brief, emotionally direct ballad co-written by Arab Strap's Aidan Moffat which beautifully expresses the heartache of missing someone. The National Jazz Trio's style can seem too sparse and basic to make an impression at first, but their approach exposes genuine emotions, and it's unconventional enough to elude easy comparison.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/20/2018
Label: Karaoke Kalk
UPC: 0880918229423
catalogNumber: 106

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