You need only listen to a couple of tracks on Fat-Suit’s new album Atlas to realise you are listening to some of the most innovative jazz being made in Scotland today.
Obviously you’ve got to be careful using “innovative” and “jazz” in the same sentence, their being practically synonymous, but you know what I mean.
Atlas follows in an extremely contemporary line of sound-making that blends old, big, brass sounds with electronic production techniques in the thread of Snarky Puppy and Vulfpeck, names that have become prominent in jazz within the last ten years or so.
So it’s fresh on the ears! By comparing them to Snarky Puppy and Vulfpeck I am saying that their sound is tight, skilfully crafted and deliberate.
Vocals are used very sparingly and to much effect, supplementing the emphatic effect of subtly introduced production techniques and distortions placed on the instrumentals in ‘Cowfords’ showing that even seven tracks into the work Fat-Suit still have tricks up their sleeve.
Solos are taken to interesting dimensions, with nods of the head to Daft Punk in ‘Sparks’, with a real slammer on the keyboard.
Elements like these in tandem are generous to the listener, and at times it becomes completely selfless, pleasure-giving music (no crazy ten minute atonal organ digressions, no blasted intergalactic saxophone numbers).
This is the direction jazz of this kind should be heading in: focusing on a live sound, counting on creative musicianship as well as good song-writing and a healthy dose of good-humour for the sake of conviviality.
The listener is left awe-struck, yes, but the album is delivered with the friendly charm of the band next door.
Words: Patrick McCafferty