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Thursday January 21

HAPPY BIRTHDAY HONOR HORNSBY & FRANK GRIFFITH.

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12,377 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 12 years ago. 96 of them this year alone and, so far, 96 this month (Jan. 20).

Monday, October 05, 2020

Album review : SKELTR - Dorje


Sam Healey (alto sax, vocals, keys); Craig Hanson (drums)

A heady brew from the Manchester club scene, a duo matching acoustic sax and drums with electronica, in a swirling journey from groove jazz through dance to rap and back.  Designed and built no doubt for live club spaces, still enjoyable at home, with sub-woofer working overtime! Skeltr live up to their name,  as even though they move through some pleasing changes of gear, the overall mood is relentless and energetic. This is in keeping with the album’s name, Dorje, Tibetan for a Buddhist artifact (Healy is a devotee) based on a “battle club” of legendary hardness and invincibility. No wonder there is a palpable mood of triumphal and joyful confidence!


Their blurb promises  “sumptuous, technically prolific saxophone solos” and while Healey can certainly blow, only in the final number did I feel he convincingly moved away from repeated formulaic surging arpeggios and scales.  Numbers like Brailia set up portentous, layers of synth bass, with sizzling ride, loops and dance beats, overlaid with swirling sax. There are echoes of Mehliana – the Mehldau Giuliana synth-drums duo, but without the quirky subtlety.


Siren uses changes of gear well, with exhilarating and energetic runs climaxing to a more relaxed groove topped off by soaring wordless vocals from guest Hayley Walker (think Dark Side of the Moon).  More variety is achieved on KinKai’s Question,  featuring famed Manchester rapper KinKai after a tension building synth intro. I enjoyed the final track Nesodden most, with Healy hitting authentic, impressive and moody sax lines - did I detect some Norwegian folk melodic fragments here, reflecting the name?  


An engaging and fresh listen, which will no doubt appeal more to a younger and hipper audience than me. All credit to Ubuntu Music and Skeltr for exploring new fusion, and opening up new audiences – I’m not sure I have the energy to keep up with them but I’ll certainly keep an ear open for where they go next!


Chris K


Release: October 9. Format: CD/Digital  on Ubuntu Music

Pre-order. 

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