This Get The Blessing article was written by Fraisia Dunn, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Jake Willis
‘Astronautilus’ is the fifth album released by contemporary jazz rockers, Get The Blessing. Formed ristol, the four piece is comprised of Jake McMurchie on sax and electronics; Pete Judge on trumpet, flugelhorn, piano and electronics; Clive Deamer on drums and percussion and Jim Barr on bass. Rumoured to have met at an Ornette Coleman appreciation society, the band was formed in 2000 with the idea to explore free jazz. Their first album, ‘All Is Yes’, was released in 2008 and won the BBC Jazz Awards. Since then, the band has released three more albums and after last year’s mellow ‘Lope and Antelope’, 2015’s offering ‘Astronautilus’ certainly has more of the storm and surge about it.
Recorded in Cornwall, ‘Astronautilus’ is a heady mixture of the sea and sky; there are hints of tides, waves crashing and a soft ebb and flow whilst whale sounds resonate in the distance. Drummer Deamer and bassist Barr also play for art-rock super-giants Portishead, and so some atmospheric electronic sounds are to be expected in the mix. The names of all of the tracks on the album are fish related, a nod towards the band’s wit, but the album also manages to maintain a strict musical integrity.
‘Monkfish’, the third piece, is one of the album’s highlights. It starts with swaggering bass that is joined by the squawk and squeal of trumpet and the whole thing hangs together loosely but convincingly- like watching an ungainly greyhound running down a beach.
‘Green Herring’ is also a stand out song in the album. It has an indie/grunge opening with a muddy bass shuffle that is joined by a descending horn line. This soon this gives way to a call and reprise between the sax and horn that builds into an intriguing tangle to which electronic tweaks add further complexity. About half way through a strong kick drum breaks through and becomes a stomp of a tune before the horn swoops in again as it dances to a triumphant end.
This indie melancholic feel comes to the fore on the track ‘Hayk’-the longest song of the album at over seven minutes long. Commencing with the twang of bass and a loose horn line, the bass soon morphs into a soft scale. Beautifully intricate and light drum rolls fill the sound to form a firm but ever-shifting base from which the saxophone and trumpet can soar. The tune finishes with electronic sounds that are reminiscent of whales, whilst also sounding somewhat otherworldly. This almost has the feel of 90’s welsh psychedelic, perhaps a bit of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci; moody but fundamentally positive.
This is a strong, amusing and powerful record and Get The Blessing are certainly a formidable foursome. In ‘Astronautilus’ the musicians demonstrate their strong connection with each other; the playing melds expertly, each time change, key change and solo is supported and prepared for by the others. Thematically it is strong; different aspects of the sea, coast and weather are examined through the mad, stormy and often bracing jazz of Get The Blessing.