Thanks to the internet, being a young and jazzy experimental band is currently more prosperous than it ever has been.
BadBadNotGood are three albums into blazing a critically acclaimed hip-hop trail out of Toronto, Manchester’s Gogo Penguin made it onto the Mercury Prize shortlist earlier this year, and of course Snarky Puppy and their almost forty-strong collective remain hugely influential.
Fat-Suit are Scotland’s answer to this trend, and it feels almost patronising to note that its fifteen members are all seriously impressive musicians.
Their compositions sit on a spectrum which, at one end features warped, technical jazz and at the other end shows off a tenderer penchant for creating trad-inspired, melody rich songs.
Their second album, Jugaad, is a powerhouse of instrumental music; it kicks off with ‘Don’t Die Octopi’, unleashing a keyboard sequence that flies madly around like a techno song.
The band effortlessly transition from section to section, bouncing back and forth from the theme before dropping into an unexpectedly gentle saxophone solo to set up the songs big climax.
Regarding the previously mentioned “spectrum”, the group slide up and down it on ‘Mistaken for a Hat’, which begins with the piano-y, gentler side of Fat-Suit before churning into funk jams, jazz solos and a hammering pinnacle taking the song just short of six-minutes.
‘Hypnic Jerk’ is a real standout track in among so many gems, as two slower, trumpet-led sections of trilling fiddle bookend a long middle section of jarring, incredibly cool grooves.
Special mentions go to ‘Illusions’ for allowing the groups guitarists to indulge in some hectic solo-ing fun, and to ‘April Lake’ for showing off a similar feel to my favourite song ‘No Regrets’, from the first album.
Jugaad is an incredibly successful album for Fat-Suit in that it displays virtuosity without stepping into the realms of showing off, shows an exciting mix of stylish composition that at points even manages to seamlessly interweave Latin-sounding rhythms with traditional-Scottish-sounding fiddle, and perhaps most importantly, puts this collective firmly in a league that will hopefully see them recognised for their brilliance by more and more music fans around the world.
Words: Greg Murray