You could describe it as post-jazz or prog-punk or whatever, but basically it’s just...
Peggy Sutton 2007
You’ll have found this review deposited in the jazz section, so you probably don’t find jazz a scary word. Unfortunately lots of people do, and that’s why Count Herbert II shouldn’t be here. This album could be filed under ‘experimental’ or even ‘rock/indie’; labels that, although equally useless, don’t make people reach for previous page on Internet Explorer quite so quickly. It’s ended up here because Fulborn Teversham is one of drummer Seb Rochford’s creations and it features two other players who have been, like Seb, mainstays of the creative and experimental UK jazz scene for quite some time: saxophonist Pete Wareham and keyboard player Nick Ramm.
If you’re a fan of Wareham’s other band, Acoustic Ladyland, you’ll be satisfied with some snarling sax riffs, grinding bass-lines and pogo pumping rhythms. And if Rochford’s Polar Bear is your bag, you’ll be happy to find plenty of his lyrical, beguiling melodies. But there are more changes of feeling, sounds and pace here than on the much-lauded albums by either of those bands: from the disdainful punk attitude of “You and Me”, to the contemplative electro-musings of “Silent”, to the keyboard-led oompah march, “Castle Music”, which could be the soundtrack to an eerie cartoon.
Rochford’s lyrics and Alice Grant’s vocals are a perfect match – stark and simple and at times gruelingly honest. They’ll also make you laugh out loud. But what I really love about this album is the slightly bizarre, almost Tom Waits-like world it conjures for me, in which Count Herbert II is sometimes a circus ring-leader, sometimes holding court in a funeral parlour, always with a big dose of humour and wit.
You could describe it as post-jazz or prog-punk or whatever, but basically it’s just properly good, strikingly original music made by people with impeccable taste.