Two years on from their initial sonic explorations into Alien/Abacadaver, Kent band Lapis Lazuli have developed their sound into a melange of wonderfulness wherein the listener can get lost deep in the thickets of the Garden of England, transported into a summer land of lazily buzzin’ flies, long grass and dusky maidens promising fun and frolics.
Part jazz fusion, part space and spacious rock, with a healthy spoonful or three of their home county’s extraordinary musical heritage, Lapis Lazuli are an English Sun Ra Arkestra for modern times.
With just three long tracks, Wrong Meeting turns out to have been held in the right place, as each tune is given time to slowly reveal the deep blue jewels at their heart, with the musicians extemporising on languid themes on a journey into a mystical place. The deft fusion of opener School is followed by the world influence of Phighype, and then the skewed rock of Reich.
In all three tracks the compositional and arrangement skills of the band are exemplary. School beams in on a signal from somewhere distant and soon transmutes into a Herbie Hancock funk workout where it is easy to imagine the band all grinning like loons as they get down on the one. Eventually the pace slows and it’s all finger-poppin’ and hanging at the jazz club, before the tune heads back to the outer reaches via a superb bass guitar turnaround by Toby Allen, who it seems has since been replaced in the line-up. The new guy will have a steep learning curve, as Toby on this and the previous record showed himself to be the possessor of no little talent on the four-stringed guitar. Following that treat is the highly enjoyable labyrinthine unfurling of Phighype as it comes in to land on a distant Mediterranean island from far out in deep space, via unusual but strangely fitting deployment of ska rhythms. Keep smokin’, boys!
The concluding Reich is more direct, being more of a rocky beast than its predecessors, with hints of experimentalism incorporating odd key and meter changes. The journey it takes is one of complexity and boundary testing, but without ever being odd for the sake of it. There is a likeability about all this music that should calm the fears of even the most conservative of listeners. Akin to being seduced, you can’t help but be drawn in by the warm inviting sounds that this criminally ignored band seem to produce at will.
The sound throughout is superb, the individual instruments and percussion are all clear as a bell. Surprising therefore, given his own band’s frustrating penchant for overloud and compressed recording, that this album was mixed by Syd Arthur’s Joel Magill. If only he could transfer this new-found clarity to his own band!
01. School (21:34)
02. Phighype (17:46)
03. Reich (17:13)
Total time – 56:15
Neil Sullivan – Guitar & Midi Guitar
Dan Lander – Guitar
Phil Holmes – Saxophone
Toby Allen – Bass
Adam Brodigan – Drums
Record Label: Celebration Days
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 11th November 2016