GoGo Penguin Review
by Ferell Aubre
GoGo Penguin is a Manchester-based leftfield piano trio comprised of pianist Chris Illingworth, bassist Nick Blacka and drummer Rob Turner. Their music is a mix of jazz with rock, minimalism, game soundtracks, and glitchy-electronica. Their album v2.0 (Gondwana Records) was named a Mercury Prize Album of the Year in 2014. In 2015 they signed a three-album deal with Blue Note Records (France) and released the debut Blue Note album Man Made Object in 2016. More recently, they have been touring their own unique score to Godfrey Reggio’s cult film Koyaanisqatsi. Now GoGo Penguin is releasing a new self-titled album. The ten tracks signify the trio has struck upon the motherlode, hit the jackpot, stepped up, and generally arrived at a point they’ve always striven for but never quite attained before.
“Atomised” has an active arpeggio figure that Blacka and Turner create a funky groove around. The trio has an energy and a swagger that is a driving force. The bridge has a descending figure that all three members play, giving a response to the active A section. The release is a feel change to a less intense and relaxed feel from Turner. The result is a song with many textures and feels that all create a mood and space of creativity with a fresh air in the jazz genre.
“Kora” has Illingworth muting the piano strings to get a guitar effect. The feel created by the trio pulls in influences of pop, funk, world, and jazz. The trio works to form a space of sounds and rhythms that are hypnotic and soothing while still having a fun, energetic atmosphere. Blacka’s bass solo is melodic and fits the mood of the piece beautifully. Serious sounds on this one.
GoGo Penguin is an album filled with fresh, confident sounds. The trio has refined their approach: They are continually offering music that is influenced by jazz while still pulling in other genres and presenting fresh sounds. There is a constant theme through all tracks, making the whole album seem like a suite — new music for the adventurous jazz fan.