We will be honest, jazz is an intriguing mystery to our usual musical investigations as too the possible inspirations to the new TaxiWars album, but there is no secret hiding an irresistible sound and provocative prowess within Fever. Offering ten mouth-watering adventures, the album, to use the term found in the release’s press release, flits between jazz and the avant-garde. It persistently provokes the senses as it flirts with the body and sparks the imagination like no other encounter heard this year.
TaxiWars is the inspirational collaboration between dEUS frontman Tom Barman and saxophone player Robin Verheyen, the pair joined by the just as absurdly creative bassist Nicolas Thys and drummer Antoine Pierre. Their self-titled debut album swiftly nurtured critical acclaim in 2015 and all we can say not having heard it, yet, is that if it matches up to the ingenious eclectic beauty of Fever, it deserved every breath of praise offered.
Fever opens with its title track, a proposition which alone makes the album worthy of attention. Instantly Verheyen’s sax is seducing ears with its intoxicating strikes, the metronomic beats of Pierre soon in close quarters as rock ‘n’ roll brews in bass and the creative tones of Barman. A flirtation for hips and feet alone, the grooving slice of dark jazz ‘n roll soon infests body and psyche alike becoming almost shamanic in its lure and tone with a relatively restrained yet salacious dance in its heart. At times and increasingly bordering on the deranged, the track is pure suggestive alchemy setting off the tone and instinctive seduction of the album in masterful style.
The following Soul Repair is similarly groove bound and imposingly suggestive; blending flirtatious energy driven by the tenacious throaty enterprise of Thys’ bass with mellower though no less gripping twists. Once more the imagination is as inspired as bodily involvement, its smoky shadow teased canvas a sure lure for creative thoughts and the lyrical and vocal imagination of Barman.
Bridges is next, coaxing attention like a mix of Dizraeli & The Small Gods and Charles Mingus; teasing ears with its melodic seduction and the ever sultry warmth and incitement flaming from Verheyen’s ingenuity. Rhythmically just as addictive with Barman alone an incitement to hang the imagination upon, the exceptional track is more than matched by the flirtatiously prowling Soliloque (Sans Issue). Sung in French, the song is even greater bait for language restricted thoughts to weave their own ventures; escapades further shaped by the brass coaxing of Verheyen and prompted by the noir lined stroll of the rhythms.
Romancing ears next is Trash Metal Ballad, a smouldering slice of creative beauty with Barman enticingly strolling scenery of gentle but insistent and evocative rhythmic coaxing courted by the hazy poetic flames of Verheyen. The song is glorious, an exploration at times on the verge of Shatner’s Bassoon like bedlam but always pulling back to slip back into the smouldering foxy fascination it emerged with.
As gentle as the song is, it is a livelier proposal compared to next up Airplane Song, though it too has infectiousness in its minimalistic invention which is as spirited as anything within Fever and cored by another simply enslaving bass jaunt from Thys. The song epitomises the tapestry of sound and suggestion woven by all four elements of the band perfectly, each as creative and essential as the other in an inescapable flirtation of body and emotion.
As calm and aurally reflective as the previous pair are, Controlled Demolition is a tenaciously energetic and dynamic proposal. Bedlamic and punky with an array of seemingly random twists and turns fuelled with schizophrenic urgency, the track is a powerhouse of invention and individual craft leading the listener on a hectic race against time and far too short given its ridiculously addictive fertile innovation.
Living up to its name, a compelling dose of the blues comes with the shadow rich Honey It’s The Blues, another suggestive noir lit encounter providing street corner light on a jazz room romance in thoughts, both centred on the blaze of Verheyen’s sax and Barman’s hazily coated descriptive prowess as an organ colours the surrounding depths.
That quality to inspire the creativity of thoughts is an ever present within Fever and again at eager play within En Route, its bass nurtured repetitive but persistently imaginative rhythmic engine a road trip for the senses through a landscape of brass drawn scenery and vocal intimation with a backing lure simply impossible not to get hooked on.
The swarthy atmosphere and climate of Egyptian Nights brings the album to a sublime close, TaxiWars dancing with the imagination as African rhythms and exotic textures surround the vocals while infusing their playful romance into keys and sax. It is a memorable and lingering close to a simply wonderful release, Fever a drop-dead treat of sound and imagination capable of igniting the passions whatever the once preferred flavour of sound.
Fever is out now via Universal Jazz across all stores.
Pete RingMaster 13/12/2016
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