Category Archives: Sloth Racket

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…


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’.


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’.


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.

Favourite Animals album now available to pre-order!

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…

Sloth Racket live album and November gigs

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.

‘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!

Sloth Racket ‘Shapeshifters’ album and tour

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:

24th June London: IKLECTIK (LUME Festival)
26th June Leeds: Wharf Chambers (presented by Sproggits)
27th June Bristol: The Old England (presented by Pull The Strings)
28th June Brighton: The Verdict (presented by Safehouse)
29th June Norwich: York Tavern (presented by Plink Plonk)
30th June Cambridge: Unitarian Church (presented by Listen!)

See you out there!


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!

Sloth Racket Autumn tour dates

After a fantastic time playing at Brighton Alternative Jazz Festival (see above video by Agata Urbaniak of us playing ‘Endgame’), Sloth Racket is heading out on the second half of our UK tour at the end of September. We’re starting with a London gig at IKLECTIK, before heading to Derby, Newcastle, Glasgow and Salford, supported by Arts Council England. We’re then sticking around in Manchester to record the band’s second album, for release next year. Here are the details:

28th September: London (IKLECTIK)
A London date to kick off the tour, with Colin Webster & Graham Dunning and Ti/om (Tim Fairhall and Tom Ward).
IKLECTIK Artlab, Old Paradise Yard, 20 Carlisle Lane, SE1 7LG

29th September: Derby (Out Front)
Part of Corey Mwamba’s new gig series launched earlier this year.
The Blessington Carriage, 11-17 Chapel Street, Derby, DE1 3GU

2nd October: Newcastle (Jazz North East)
Jazz North East are actually responsible for this band’s formation! After our first ever performance as part of their programme at Gateshead International Jazz Festival 2015, we’re looking forward to playing for JNE in their HQ, the Bridge Hotel.
The Bridge Hotel, Castle Garth, Newcastle NE1 1RQ

3rd October: Glasgow (Old Hairdessers)
Sloth Racket’s first gig in Scotland! Jer Reid has organised this date for us, and he’ll be playing a set with Raymond MacDonald (sax), Catriona McKay (harp), Una MacGlone (bass) and Dougal Marwick (synths, electronics).
Old Hairdressers, 27 Renfield Lane, Glasgow, G2 6PH

5th October: Salford (Islington Mill)
Last date of the tour before we go into the studio to record in Manchester. With another band on the bill tbc.
Islington Mill, James Street, Salford, M3 5HW

See you out there!