The Blessing All Is Yes Review

Album. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

You could do a lot worse than buy this little gem…

Chris Jones 2008

At last, a jazz-rock band that refuse to be called jazz-rock. They love food, they have links with people as diverse as Roni Size, Portishead and Robert Plant and describe themselves as 'jazz, not jazz'. Ladies and gentlemen, make room in your lives for Bristol's The Blessing…

Of course Bristol's always had something different in the water. It makes perfect sense that the Blessing’s rhythm section has served time in Portishead (whose Adrian Utley makes a guest appearance here). That band’s mixture of beats, torch jazz and full-on noise attack became notorious because it dared to ignore boundaries. In a similar fashion, the Blessing can be pigeon-holed as 'jazz', but there’s so much more at work here. 60s spy movies, ska, surf instrumentals, mariachi vamping (Can't Believe In Faith), noise terror and even a touch of fusion (well, they can play in seven).

A lot of what they do revolves around some mighty riffing. It’s all like the soundtrack to some hipster car chase; at once cinematic and still infused with a healthy dose of humour. Like other UK mavericks like Polar Bear and Acoustic Ladyland, this is music that’s quintessentially English. Yet The sly references are never allowed to overwhelm the groove. This is music for head and feet.

Jim Barr's bass lines serve as both support and as crunchy lead instrumentation at times. The intro to opener Bleach Cake kicks in like The Attractions in 1978 and Clive Deamer's drums are as tight and springy or softly brushed as needed. Where they succeed best is on the numbers that take their time to evolve and finally break free: Loubia being the best example, with its eastern shuffle building from murmur to squall and back again. The trick's also utilised on the mighty Suzi's Suzuki, which manages to bridge the gap between Canterbury and Castle Donnington quite seamlessly.

While the odd combination of sax, trumpet, bass and drums may not seem like a likely place to start a juggernaut as playful as this, Jake McMurchie (sax) and Pete Judge (trumpet) manage to compliment each other wonderfully, with McMurchie happy to blow free or simply maintain the riff while Judge coaxes any number of growls and squeaks from his horn.

Music industry types will struggle to market music as inventive and fun as this. But if you want a good time that doesn't rely on skinny boys with guitars or endless technical showboating, you could do a lot worse than buy this little gem…

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