Nigel Hayes: But Is It Art?


By Maurice Bottomley

What is going on in Europe? First Germany with the likes of Jazzanova and the Rainer Truby Trio, then Scandinavia (the excellent Bugge Wesseltoft) and now Austria gets the jazz bug. If you thought European dance music meant crashing industrial techno you are behind the times. Europe has gone jazz. It is jazz filtered through house and electronica and aimed at the dance floor but it is none the worse for that.

I know nothing about Nigel Hayes except that he records in Vienna has a Jensen Interceptor on the cover of the album (very mod, very naff) and he he plays programmed keyboards to very good effect. This recording is the step towards jazzhouse that the JTQ failed to make. From the the synth and sample funk of “Shriek” to the electronic weirdness of the house-fuelled “Detonate the Charge” this is an impressive outing. Sparse and cerebral but with a strong rhythmic pulse throughout this is where acid jazz should be at the beginning of a new century.

I am a big fan of the tuneful end of techno—to which this seems quite close—but I remain essentially a soul and jazz fan. Fortunately this album stays close enough to those values to satisfy and even throws in the odd vocal to give a human feel to what at times could become a rather arid enterprise. There is an intelligence and a coherence about all the tracks but just enough muscularity to avoid it being too academic an exercise. One for dancers and listeners alike—which is what acid jazz has always been about.

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