Friday, December 23, 2011

Indigo Jam Unit - Independent (2011)

One of the most prolific bands on the Japanese scene, indigo jam unit's seventh original album and tenth overall release since 2006 is about to hit the shops just three months after the well-received covers project recorded with vocalist Alicia Saldenha. As with all their releases, the artwork for Independent is a distinctively simple match of sans serif typography and bold colour. And once again fans can look forward to a nine track set of tunes that feature funky basslines, memorable piano melodies and explosive percussion.
The album opens with Escape, featuring a heavy bass loop that continues for the duration of the tune. Takehiro Shimizu then comes in with some jazzy cymbals and drumwork before some crashing piano chords signal the beginning of the drama. The combination of these sounds suggest a frantic and furious flight from something rather ominous. No matter how fast they run away the danger seems to be drawer closer and closer and the abrupt end to the track leaves you wondering whether they fled successfully or were captured by their pursuers.
Whatever the outcome, the band were fortunately able to complete the rest of the album and move on next to Rising. Led by a memorable and haunting piano riff, the track is also notable for its use of the band's signature twin drum sound.
Another heavy bass loop marks the start of Baobab, a fine tune with some great drums and percussions over which Yoshichika Tarue can weave his magic. The tempo changes slightly half-way through, with the percussion and drums taking on a more African and then gradually builds to a powerful finale. Resolution, on the other hand, is a down-tempo number led by an exquisitley melancholy introspective piano loop. As the title, Bounce is a funky uptempo feelgood number that is bound to get you tapping your feet after the more reflective mood of the previous tune, and this track is bound to go down well live.
Devotion is a standout tune with a shuffling drumbeat over which is layered a Latin-flavoured piano hook. It's an exotic and uplifting mid-tempo number that provides the perfect escape from cold winter evenings. 
The final third of the album kicks off with Phoenix, an atmospheric track led by some really impressive piano. The subdued and sobre mood of the first half of the tune gives way to a radiant burst of energy later on signalling the rebirth and resurrection, with the track finishing with a great feeling of hope and optimism. From high drama we then move to more conventional jazz stylings with Sepia, a great swinging tune with an awesome drum solo for its climax, which is followed by the ballad Genuine.
Once again indigo jam unit deliver the goods with Independent. It's an album that sees them sticking to a formula that has served them well for the last few years, but all the time they can continue to produce impressive new tunes like these, there is little need to fix what ain't broke.

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