SHATTERING any preconceptions of ‘jazz’, Fracture presents the breakaway sound of an impressively dynamic trio who know where they want to be heading with their musical creativity. Already with a much-lauded BBC Introducing performance to their name, as well as the kudos of Mobo and Mercury Prize nominations, Roller Trio’s second album consolidates their identity with a bold, exhilarating programme acuminated from their time on the road.
Hailing from Leeds, UK, the line-up of James Mainwaring (saxophone and electronics), Luke Wynter (guitar) and Luke Reddin-Williams (drums) radiates a confident, piquant spirit throughout ten instrumental numbers, indicating an unerring ability to absorb multifarious influences and regenerate them into powerful, unpredictable environments. Variously echoing the raw guitar energy of Troyka, the electro-ambiences of Brian Eno and perhaps even a trace of the Kaiser Chiefs’ driving rock, their satisfyingly complex grooves, electronics and improvisations are intertwined with accessible (memorable, even) hooks and melodies which hold the key to its overall appeal.
Engaging from the outset, Reef Knot spins to Luke Reddin-Williams’ quite impossibly beat-skipping pulse, yet the trio hold the whole concept incredibly tight – and James Mainwaring displays the most furiously fluid tenor capabilities, often in tandem with the similarly agile fret-work of Luke Wynter. Doris continues to push and pull rhythms at will with almost ska-tinged audacity, and the gear changes and slip-timings keep it well above interesting. The brief echoic guitar mystery of Low Tide introduces an early album highlight… High Tea, buzzing with hypnotic, electronic Eastern inflections. Tenor sax and guitar share its mystical mantra, whilst Mainwaring utters beautifully pop-phrased melodies; and, again, Reddin-Williams’ high energy at the kit is extraordinary.
Blistering 2 Minutes to 12 exudes TV thriller urgency with fabulously precise stop/start phrases; and Tracer floats across a smoothly-electronic soul soundscape reminiscent of Sade/Matthewman, its gently ticking beat providing the platform for luxurious tenor improvisations. The enquiring hook of guitar-led Splinter paves the way for lyrical-then-flamboyant soprano sax (shades of Portico), the importance of melody ever-present; and the apparent post-bop jazz amiability of Mango conceals a darker central section, revealing a band who are adept at ‘turning on a sixpence’ to create that element of surprise.
Three Pea Soup summons the guitar rhythmicity of Average White Band, albeit with an edge – and, sure enough, the trio take it off into spectacularly saturated, time-sig-challenging new levels (‘hard, at times, to believe this is a trio); and finally, the improvised, slow-burning, levitational guitar/electronics atmospheres of Tightrope suggest uncertainty, with Mainwaring’s crying, falling soprano adding to the intensity.
Released on 8 December, as a debut on the band’s own Lamplight Social Records label (which, they explain, provides them with total control of their output as well as making provision for future projects), Fracture is one of 2014’s most vibrantly original trio offerings, and it’s no surprise that Roller Trio are gaining a reputation as one of Europe’s most exciting new jazz talents – take a listen.
James Mainwaring saxophone, electronics
Luke Wynter guitar
Luke Reddin-Williams drums
Lamplight Social Records – LSRCD001 (2014)