GoGo Penguin – Man Made Object (a review by Unkitsch)


I shouldn’t have to write anything if you watch the video above. If you decide not to, then you’re clearly a little soft in the head to think that my words will in any way best this performance. But let’s say you’re that kind of a person, and you came to this blog expecting a review of some sort, and you need reasons to pick this album out of a million others to listen to.

Reason 1 – Impeccable Groove:

I listen to this album while commuting to work. I get completely absorbed in the songs as I get out of my house, walk towards the train station, wait for the train, get out, follow the same path that leads into a park and then 9 floors up to my office. I know that if I have left at the correct moment, I will be listening to “Weird Cat” just as I enter the park. I am completely in sync with the album, and by the time I’m done listening to it, I’m in the rhythm to work.

Reason 2 – Memorable Melodies:

Good jazz, or for that matter good music, should have memorable melodies. Take “My Favorite Things”, for instance, which has such a simple yet memorable melody, there have been innumerable renditions, and due to its stark simplicity, this Rodgers & Hammerstein classic has worn so many styles and flirted with so many great musicians, I could write an entire post devoted to it, which I someday will. But the point being, these guys know how to write hooks, melodies, and though one might imagine that the improvisational aspect is limited, I once again suggest listening to the album and then watch any of their live videos to note how subtly they improvise in near watertight structural restrictions, both rhythmic and melodic. Especially the drummer.

Reason 3 – Crystal Clear Production:

You can hear every note clearly – which is a combination of how the sections are composed and arranged, how cleanly they are played and how well recorded and mastered they are. I could transcribe a lot of the melodies and bass just by listening to them on my terrible laptop speakers.

Reason 4 – Jazz Induction:

If you have friends who aren’t really into jazz, or if you are a friend to someone who loves jazz but you don’t (in which case you’re a terrible friend – kidding) – this album can be a great gateway into jazz – especially if the jazz non-lover in concern has some appreciation for electronic music such as Aphex Twin (who is a major influence for the band, or so I’ve been told).

(stranger’s note: unkitsch blogs at howgoodisthisalbum.wordpress.com.)

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