[30 May 2007]
It’s no exaggeration to say that drummer Seb Rochford has played a major part in transforming the British jazz world in the last few years. His two high-profile groups, Acoustic Ladyland and Polar Bear have done more than any others to inject a little bit of spit ‘n’ spunk into the scene, and Rochford himself has become a ubiquitous figure, currently playing in about 10 different bands and involved in countless collaborations. So, stumbling across this release from Fulborn Teversham, you might be forgiven for thinking “oh great, another CD with Seb Rochford on it”. Except this one is a little different: less commercially populist than Polar Bear; less self-consciously zeitgeist-chasing than Acoustic Ladyland; more downright peculiar in its unfettered idiosyncrasies and singularity of vision. It’s pretty much the musical equivalent of Rochford’s trademark enormous afro hairdo and softly spoken demeanour: silly, fascinating, calculated in its childlike charm and oddly touching.
Although the band features fellow Acoustic Ladyland members, Pete Wareham on sax and Nick Ramm on keyboards, the sound is even further away from jazz, thanks largely to Alice Grant’s vocal delivery of Rochford’s oddly naive lyrics: a sneering, punk-energised yelp with a refreshingly unmodulated English accent in the Robert Wyatt school of naked honesty. Rochford’s tunes range from spiky, energetic three-minute brutes to the ominous gut-wrench creep of the title track with its glowering sax solo; from ambient electronica to a kind of cack-handed circus keyboard music, like a drunk Sun Ra dressed as a clown intent on malevolence. And just in case you’re still unsure how little Fulborn Teversham seems to be chasing the album charts with this one, there’s even a little bit of Prog thrown in for good measure. What’s not to like?