It seems that every other album I review has a pristine white background. But don't worry your pretty little head about it: instead, come home from work/college/the pub/prison, select Blue Swerver's The Art of Collapsing from your extensive collection of CTW recommendations, flop onto the sofa, sip something good (tea, beer, wine, life partner) and listen to smoky vocals drift over eleven electronic blues-jazz morsels. Yeah, baby. For those of you out there wondering how to blend jazz and the blues with electronica, look no further than the first track, the spookily good Untempo, which morphs from jazzy blues to downtempo IDM to electronica before culminating in a short slice of trip-hop and an ending that suits the final lyric perfectly. Less than four minutes long, its many changes in tempo and mood provide real value for money – if that's not a surreal thing to say about a free CC album. Don't blame me if you wake up tomorrow surrounded by empty wine bottles, a full ashtray and a trilby you've never seen before. As I said, it's the first track (apologies to feed readers - I'm waiting for Jamendo to do something about its invisible media player):
The Art of Collapsing is a disciplined album from Blue Swerver, a five-strong band from London. There's no egotistical jazz twiddling (which is something I love, when in the mood): all the musicians serve the song. Nick Street's electronic trickery and Robin Grey's (for it is he) bass provide a firm bedding for Adam Green's whispered/slurred vocals and Jules Fenton's judicious drumming. Ben Oliver is a dab hand at jazz-blues piano. According to them, the god Orpheus helps out on triangle. So they've got that going for them.
A true fact about track seven: Zinedine Zidane is not the name of a French footballing wizard but is actually a formula invented by Louis Armstrong in his bid to discover jazz's equivalent to the theory of relativity: Satchmo found that those five syllables, pronounced in that precise order, immediately increased a singer's hipness by a factor of cool. He died too soon to publicise his findings – so thank CTW for the research. Adam Green's vocals in the verses totter along the ragged edge between ultra-jazzy and off-key, but the chorus is the coolest, catchiest thing you'll hear all week. (Find Zinedine Zidane by clicking on a track name in the Jamendo player and choose from the pop-up playlist.) It ends with a marvellously pithy line: The rest of the week was much better/I finally had it out with my neighbour's dog/He's been pissin' on my roses/for way too long.
Speaking of which, what a pleasure it is to hear such distinctive lyrics. This from Job, where a jazz piano and light electronica help to tell the Biblical tale: They said, “Crazy, you're crazy still praying to Him.”/He said, “God is my shepherd even though he burns my skin.” Or there's this from At The Movies: Side by side at the movies/disappointing pizza and a slow walk home.
There are a couple of beauty spots in the album's otherwise flawless complexion: the vocals suffer from too much sibilance and my crappy sound system distorts the trumpet solo in Tasky, though the latter's verses of beat poetry come through very clearly, which, depending on your taste for wordplay, may or may not be a good thing.
Right, this review is getting longer than my alcohol-deprived tongue, so I shall leave you to discover the other tracks with the advice to stick the album on your "chilled Anjou/Muscadet/Gewürztraminer/Buckfast Cider" playlist, if you have one. Please think about making a donation to Blue Swerver to thank and encourage them - it's easy to do at Jamendo. I can't remember if I found The Art of Collapsing via the peerless Free Albums Galore, but that's not going to stop me from a drive-by plug. ;)