Downtempo crepuscular negotiations

I don’t know who the DJ Fontana is who remixed this album, but it’s presumably not Elvis Presley’s drummer, who died last year at the age of 87. There is some minor overlap in track names between this record and the first Black Gold 360 release, but I couldn’t tell you how much it sounds like it, or to what extent these cuts are really remixes, as its quite a while since I listened to that album, and research is not my style (today). What I can tell you is that this record lays down multiple negotiations of the ways that jazz can interact with electronic music, from providing the raw materials for dance tunes, to getting on with some honest-to-Betsy improvisation in a slightly glitchy sonic environment. I say ‘negotiations’ rather than ‘explorations’, because there’s not much experimental about the album; it’s certainly full of creativity, but there’s a keen and practised awareness of exactly what impact each of the effects it invokes will have. It’s pretty dark on the whole, with a somewhat spooky melancholy established in the opening. Trip-hop is an obvious point of comparison, a genre characterised by moody, crepuscular atmospheres, downtempo grooves, and jazzy stylistic sources, but there’s some absorbingly lyrical playing here too, most notably from Coen Kaldeway’s bass clarinet and Lucas Dols’ bass. The Black Gold 360 discography dates from a time when giving away your music for free was a radical manoeuvre deployed by independent artists to circumvent the exploitative mechanisms of the established music business, rather than a harsh reality imposed coercively by that same industry, as it is today. As such, all four albums are available free of charge from the Fifty Dollar Records site – or they can certainly be streamed there, and they used to be available for free download, which is how they ended up on my HD and in my ears. This represent exceptionally good value for effort, because all of them, this one included, are extremely accomplished, imaginative, atmospheric, and nuanced pieces of work. I’ve had this beautiful recording on repeat for a few months, and it’s been an engrossing place to rest my ears.

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