‘Long Live The Jazz’ is the third full length project from the multi-talented producer Swindle though this is the first which is seeing an official release on a label. Over the last few years of the 2000s he found himself producing for the likes of Roll Deep, Professor Green and Chipmunk in a wide variety of styles including UK funky and more conventional grime sounds. Swindle has now found his own niche. His recent productions and now this album take influence from all over the shop; dubstep, grime and jazz being the most prominent sounds on offer.
The idea of crossing dubstep with other genres is one that has been attempted by many others and often ends up as a horrible hybrid with none of the flair of either genre involved. Not here. Swindle has created a perfect merging of sounds with all the soulful and melodic musicianship of jazz intertwined with the gritty and bass heavy sounds of dubstep, and in places grime.
‘Long Live The Jazz (Intro)’ makes Swindle’s intent perfectly clear from the start. With the archetypal dubstep rhythm warped and twisted; staying around 140 BPM with a snare on the third but introducing so many percussive elements you might not even recognise it as dubstep if played out of context. This multi instrumental work out is playful and melodic demonstrating that dubstep doesn’t just need to be about nodding your head in a darkened room.
‘Forest Funk’ is one of three previously released singles (the other two being ‘Ignition’ and ‘Do The Jazz’) that have found their way on to the album and whilst I was obviously hoping for an entirely original collection of material it’s clear to see why they were included. All of them being incredible pieces of music so true to the jazzy sound Swindle is going for.
The ambient animal noise of ‘Forest Funk’ soon gives way to a very relaxed beat which in turn breaks down to a synth line that is very reminiscent of older Benga. The tune then drops in a flurry of pounding drums and saturated synths. ‘Ignition’ starts with some great piano work and then some real nice vocals from Nadia Suliman and Footsie of Newham Generals. The wobble on this one is incredible with a real classic sound to it.
‘Kick It’, which features The Milk, initially feels like a real live jam with its rolling drums and the introduction of the organ. In real contrast to this are the powerful and heavily reverbed snares and powerful bass line. This is a common feature on the majority of the songs presented here; they start sounding like live jazz jams (this is unsurprising due to the fact Swindle and various friends played a lot of instruments on the album) and then elements of clearly electronic origin are layered on top.
The “Music is freedom, freedom is music” vocal that rings out at the start of ‘Pledge Allegiance’ is so bizarrely edited and morphed and this style of vocal continues throughout. The wobbling bass, soulful guitar chords and flute work perfectly together throughout to give this tune a real swagger. Somewhat obviously, ‘Phone Me’ is littered with samples from phones past and present. The use of these samples to form the melody was a really nice touch though.
Terri Walker, a London-based singer who previously came to my attention on T.William’s ‘Heartbeat’, supplied the vocals for ‘Running Cold’ which give it a more human feel amongst the squelching synths and powerful drums. ‘Start Me Up’ is a real club ready track that will be ideal on the dancefloor with the tension of the build-up to the drop and the power of the drop itself.
‘Keep Me Warm’ represents Swindle at his most soulful and provides a soothing respite from the rest of the album, particularly the outro, though the synths are still fast paced and dominant. The vocoder is out again hear, a real throwback to Parliament. The bongos on ‘Last Minute Boogie’ were provided by someone Swindle met through playing in the Mala In Cuba live show and they provide an excellent rhythm and feel to the track as the listener is pounded by the heavy bassline.
Sam Frank, most famous for his work with Disclosure, provides vocals and a piano solo on ‘It Was Nothing’ to great effect as the pair combine to produce the deepest piece of music on the album, with an orchestral feel.
‘When I Fly Out’ starts with operatic vocal samples and rolling snares. The track is a mash up of sounds with a cool as hell bass hook played by Preditah and the piano juxtaposed to the amen breaks and yet more use of the vocoder. The album closes with ‘Do The Jazz’ which is the song that really got me into Swindle. I liked his productions before but when I first heard the piano and percussion of the intro culminating in such a powerful drop I was hooked.
This is some of Swindle’s best produced work that has really highlighted just how talented he is. His many years of making music (he started playing piano aged 8) have shaped him into a force to be reckoned with who really knows his craft.
‘Long Live The Jazz’ finds an ideal home on scene figurehead Mala’s Deep Medi imprint. Mala’s recent Mala in Cuba album being the closest point of reference on the dubstep landscape to this more experimental piece of work. With the constant (and completely untrue) claims that dubstep is dead or dying it’s albums like these that serve as centrepieces in the counter argument. So long as we have producers like Swindle the dubstep sound won’t die.
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Written by Andy Brennan