Madwort’s Menagerie is Tom Ward’s chamber-ish sextet project, which I became a member of relatively recently. We recorded a set of Tom’s music in 2017 and the album is coming out this Spring on his new label Madwort Records. To celebrate the release, we’ll be playing at Hundred Years Gallery in Hoxton on Saturday 9th February. For this date the lineup will be:
Tom Ward – flute
Alex Bonney – cornet
Adam Spiers – cello
Andrew Woolf – bass clarinet
Cath Roberts – baritone saxophone
Tim Fairhall – double bass
The new Sloth Racket album A Glorious Monster had been making its way to the ears of various music writers this summer, and here follows a summary of their thoughts on our latest output.
Daniel Spicer in the Wire noted the album’s ‘gossamer guitar webs’, ‘free burn’ and ‘doomy plods’, while Nick Hasted in Jazzwise was struck by the ‘deconstructive graft’, ‘squawks and splutters’ and ‘thunderous force’, resassuring readers that the music was ‘less grindingly abrasive than Ripsaw Catfish’ – a relief to all concerned.
Meanwhile on the internet, Ian Mann of The Jazz Mann felt that the album was ‘Sloth Racket at their inimitable best’. Our first review from the Avant Scena blog featured ‘turbulent free improvisations’, and on the Can This Even Be Called Music blog (!!) we were described as ‘bringing forth a slow burn type of jazz, almost akin to doom music’. Gert Derkx on the ever-supportive Op Duvel blog had lots of positive things to say, if my my sketchy Dutch skills and auto-translate assistance are anything to go by, and we were also an Avant Music News pick of the week. Ken Waxman on Canadian blog Jazzword wrote that ‘the hard-hitting Sloth Racket quintet is refining its approach to Free Jazz without losing any of the power that characterized the band’s earlier music.’ Most recently, Paul Margree on We Need No Swords felt that ‘the border between group and individual blurs into an amorphous zone’ on this album, as well as highlighting the ‘mischievous alto pecking’, Johnny’s ‘octopoid wig out’ and ‘a cloud of mesmerising jitter’.
Big thanks to everyone who has supported the album so far! If you haven’t already, have a listen below and see what you think…
The third Sloth Racket studio album ‘A Glorious Monster’ is available to pre-order from Luminous! Recorded last November in Manchester, it was mixed and mastered by Alex Bonney at the beginning of this year and I’m really happy with how it sounds. Listen to a preview track and order your copy over at the Luminous Bandcamp site:
The CD edition of the album comes in a hand-printed sleeve as ever (this year I’ve been experimenting with neon ink!), and we also have super exciting 2018 Sloth Racket t-shirts on sale in either lime or charcoal, as seen in the ultra-realistic collage below:
Orders will ship out to arrive on release day, 4th June, but if you want to get your hands on one before then and you live near London, Bath, Manchester, Derby, York or Durham, they will be on sale from the merch table at all of our tour gigs. We’d love to see you there!
Apologies…..this post demanded all caps. I’ve been working on this for a LONG time, so I’m pretty ecstatic to announce that Sloth Racket will hit the road once again this year with support from Arts Council England! It’s an eight date tour taking in some new places and revisiting some familiar sloth haunts, to celebrate the release of our third studio album ‘A Glorious Monster’ on Luminous this June.
It’s almost out there! Today I shipped out albums to all the crowdfunder backers, and pre-orders are up on the Bandcamp site. The release date is 4th December, so if you order a copy between now and then, it should drop onto your doormat on the day. Even though we only recorded this in August, I feel like I’ve been working on it for a really long time, so it’s good to get it over the line. The first track is streaming online now:
Next up, it’s all hands on deck as we finish the last of the logistics ready for the double bill Article XI/Favourite Animals UK tour. Here’s the flyer again – come out and see us if we’re in your town…
A Sloth Racket live album ‘See The Looks On The Faces’ is coming out this month on the excellent Tombed Visions label. David McLean, who runs the label, approached me earlier this year and we came up with a plan to record the summer tour with a view to putting something together. The resulting album features music from our gigs in Cambridge (at Listen!) and Norwich (at Plink Plonk), expertly captured by our own Anton Hunter, who brought his recording set up on tour. David was keen to present two versions of a composition, and so ‘Edges’ appears twice on the album – but in very different forms…
To support the release we’re playing in Manchester, Canterbury and London. Come along – and grab yourself one of the limited edition Tombed Visions cassettes while you’re at it! Check out the poster below for all the info.
I’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo today for the upcoming Favourite Animals album. It will run until 4th October. From the campaign text:
This August I gathered my ten piece ensemble Favourite Animals to record a studio album at City, University of London. Thanks to our trombone player Tullis Rennie who lectures there, we had access to the world class facilities over three days. With Alex Bonney engineering, we recorded loads of music. Now I need YOUR help to get it out there! I’m fundraising to cover the musicians and engineers’ fees, mixing, mastering and CD production, ready for release this December when the band goes on tour.
A cluster of new releases have appeared over the past month or so, while this blog has been concentrating on Sloth Racket activities, so here they are in one post.
First up, I’m really pleased to have collobarated with Tullis Rennie on Blurts/Growls, an album compiled from our live trombone/baritone sax improvisations at Cafe Oto Project Space and Free Range in Canterbury late last year. We spent some time together cutting up the music into shortish tracks, making it more of a ‘studio’ type project, although it’s assembled from live recordings. The album came out on Luminous as half of a special LUME Festival double release, and Tullis was even cool with me doing some white goods themed cover art…
The other half of the festival release was the third volume of the Live At LUME fundraiser album series. This edition is a selection of live recordings from the LUME Lab gigs we put on at IKLECTIK in the first half of this year, with tracks from ensembles led by Julie Kjær, Craig Scott and Anton Hunter. All proceeds from sales of these albums go towards future LUME activities: it makes a big difference for us that there’s a small stream of extra income we can use to supplement any project funding we’re able to secure. Have a listen to the ace new music by Julie, Craig and Anton below.
Finally, Tullis and I appear again on Noon: 22nd Century, a new cassette from the Zero Wave label. The album is two live sets by Far Rainbow with guests: one one side Colin Webster and me, and Tullis and me on the other (me me me!). The set with Tullis is from the same Free Range gig that we took some of the Blurts/Growls material from, so there’s a nice connection between the two albums. The tape has super cool artwork by Emily Mary Barnett (who plays drums in Far Rainbow).
The new Sloth Racket album is out TODAY on Luminous! You can listen to the whole thing on Bandcamp now, and order your copy on CD and/or download. People who placed a pre-order should have received the rest of the album download today, and the physical copy in the post (let me know if you haven’t).
We’re touring at the end of the month: details are in the previous post…
The second Sloth Racket album ‘Shapeshifters’ is available to pre-order today, with albums shipping out and full release on 12th June (on Luminous). Recorded in October 2016 at Blueprint Studios in Salford, the album is made up of four new pieces that we developed over the course of our Autumn tour. Have a listen to a preview track and order your copy in advance from the Luminous Bandcamp site.
To launch the album we’re heading out on tour at the end of June, with support from Arts Council England. The tour takes us to some new places, perhaps the most exciting of which is the first ever edition of Listen! in Cambridge. Listen! is being set up by dedicated London jazz scene supporters Carol Garrison and Graham Lee, who have relocated to Cambridge and decided to get their hands dirty setting up a new outpost for adventurous music there. As well as Cambridge we’ll be playing in Bristol and Norwich for the first time, plus returning to Leeds and Brighton to play at Wharf Chambers and Safehouse. To start things off we’ll be doing a set on the Saturday of the second LUME Festival, which presumably you’ve already got your tickets for…
Here’s the tour itinerary, with links to more info on the gigs: