Category Archives: Reviews!

Favourite Animals album reviews round-up

Reviews of the Favourite Animals album have been appearing since its release in December. Have a listen as you peruse what the critics had to say below…

Print

In the March issue of the Wire magazine was a half-page triple review from Stewart Smith of the Favourite Animals and Article XI albums, plus Sloth Racket’s live album ‘See The Looks On The Faces’. Favourite Animals are described as as ‘lurching between riff and abstraction’, ‘maintain[ing] an elegant balance between emergent melody and the wilder activity at its fringes’…

Also in print was a great Jazzwise review from Thomas Rees, who writes that the ‘gritty and anarchic’ Favourite Animals album ‘confirms Roberts’ talent as a composer and Luminous as a label to watch’.

Online

Excitingly, Dave Sumner at Bandcamp Daily (also of Bird Is The Worm) included Favourite Animals in his list of ‘The Best Jazz On Bandcamp: January 2018’. ‘On first listen,’ he writes, Favourite Animals sounds like it may be broken,’ but he then goes on to describe ‘startling moments of altered perspective’ in an enthusiastic mini-review complete with Bandcamp embed.

Steve Day published an extremely detailed writeup on Sandy Brown Jazz, describing the album as ‘a brilliantly conceived big band construct’ and ‘radical contemporary music which is absolutely on the money’. ‘Favourite Animals are making a ‘mindset’ change not just a musical one,’ he writes to close the review.

Sammy Stein on Something Else Reviews also has good things to say about the album: ‘Everyone creates, is supported and leads at different times… [and] there is also a sense of one-ness and understanding which only happens when musicians are completely intuitive of each other.’

Lee Rice-Epstein posted a lovely four star review of the album on the Free Jazz Collective blog (‘bursts out of the speakers’!).

On The Quietus, Stewart Smith included the Favourite Animals and Article XI albums in his Complete Communion Jazz Roundup: UK Special: ‘Roberts and Hunter show new possibilities for the leftfield big band by combining sophisticated ensemble writing with state of the art extended techniques from the wilder shores of free improvisation.’

One of the first reviews that came in was from Gert Derkx on Op Duvel (in Dutch). A bit of online auto-translation help for my almost non-existent Dutch suggests that he counts Favourite Animals, among a number of current bands, as proof that exciting improvised music can be made by large lineups!

Live reviews

Ian Mann at The Jazz Mann came to the Birmingham gig of our Favourite Animals/Article XI tour in December, and reported back with a great review of both bands on his blog. ‘The music of Favourite Animals is consistently mutating, never remaining in one place for long and taking great delight in stylistic and dynamic contrasts,’ he writes of our set, going on to describe the gig as ‘an absorbing and intriguing evening of uncompromising music making at the interface where the composed and the spontaneous conjoin to rewarding effect.’

The Newcastle gig was also reviewed: Steve H on Bebop Spoken Here describes the Favourite Animals set as ‘very cinematic’ and the gig as a ‘brilliant doubleheader’.

Thanks

Compiling this post prompts me once again to thank the 90 truly amazing people who backed my crowdfunding campaign to make the Favourite Animals album last year. Without you, the music wouldn’t have made it out there and into the ears of music lovers and critics! Thank you!!

Favourite Animals live photo by Oliver Dover.

‘Shapeshifters’ album reviews round-up

Reviews of the new Sloth Racket album have been emerging since it came out in June, so this is a round-up of what people have been writing about our second release.

In printed words, we had a good reception from Daniel Spicer in Jazzwise:

Also in print was this nice review from Stewart Smith in The Wire magazine:

The blogosphere was also into the album. From the UK we had very positive (and extensive!) writeups:

Dalston Sound‘For all the restraint on display this is meaty, powerful music, thoughtful and multi-dimensional with no lacunae and no navel-gazing. And Roberts’s authorial stamp is strong, so Sloth Racket are shaping up as one of the most distinctive groups to emerge from the current UK Jazz/improv nexus.’

The Jazz Mann: ‘This is a group that is willing to stretch itself and take musical risks. Many of the musicians have previously played together in other line ups and this is reflected by a shared sense of adventure and a cohesive and collective group dynamic.’

Sandy Brown Jazz: ‘Sloth Racket’s second album Shapeshifters is well worth enquiry.  It literally sharpens up on the creative edge of improvisation.’

Further afield, the album was reviewed by Op Duvel (in Dutch) and Musiczoom (in Italian).

Big thanks to all the reviewers for their support of the record!

New Sloth Racket video

Sloth Racket has a new video! Our good friend Ben Owen has made this great short film of us playing at a LUME gig at The Vortex in May this year. The piece we play is called ‘Shapeshifters’ and will appear on our second album, coming out in Summer 2017.

More videos of the band can be found on the Sloth Racket page. Also this month, some new nice words about the band have appeared online; from Dave Sumner on his latest Bird Is The Worm ‘This Is Jazz Today’ dispatch, and from Stewart Smith in his 2016 jazz/improv roundup on The Quietus. Thanks both!

Wire review for LUME Festival

LUME Festival has a review in this month’s Wire magazine, courtesy of Daniel Spicer. He really sums up the weird post-Brexit mood on the day (two days after the EU referendum result) and has some pretty glowing things to say about the music, including Word Of Moth and Article XI. Although it was only in June, the festival feels like a long time ago now. Roll on the next one!

(Click on the image to enlarge).

Cp5Z3I4XEAA_tiD