Cars From the Future is the brain child – and collaboration project – from Andrew Spackman of Dark Jazz Project fame and saxophonist Richard Davies and it could be a match made in heaven… or a factory in this case.
Dark Jazz Project is a tricky beast to grasp, it’s industrious, challenging but also rewarding if you stick with it, eventually the blips, bloops and electrical static combine to become something different but also interesting. I think my reason for my reluctance to jump two-footed on board is due to my having to listen and review so many new releases that I simply don’t have the time to dedicate myself to understanding what is going on, yet with the music of Richard Davies, I kinda get it. It’s jazz, but progressive and expressive, sure it doesn’t have the ‘typical’ boundaries of drums, bass and a vocal but you can understand what it is on first listen and it only improves with time. So, when the two musical minds meet, what is the result?
Well, in short, it could be Andrew Spackman’s strongest release yet.
I always imagine these sounds being made by some musical scientist, twisting knobs and looping soundbytes – a little like a cocktail of Dr Frankenstein and Brian Eno – but I also bet the reality is something less romantic.
Yes, we still have the blips, blops and bloops but with the grounding of that Davies sax (if I didn’t mention, Davies is somewhat of a maverick in his playing, often using the instrument more expressively than most) the songs are more coherent and recognisable.
‘Journey to the Engine’ opens up with those industrial sounds before breaking into an almost disco rhythm and exploring loops and dance beats, all supported by a dreamy sax tone, punctuating and forming tricky little snippets before returning to that disco beat, it’s really good, like a mini DJ set.
‘Magic Ballet Blues’ is superb! There is so much space within the synth music, but the layering…? Like grandma’s trifle recipe, it’s thick, creamy and sweet but with enough punch to keep coming back for more. It’s sci-fi but turned up a notch. Each song feels like a soundtrack to some sci-fi masterpiece, obviously there will be comparisons to ‘Rachael’s Theme’ from the genre-defining Blade Runner soundtrack by Vangelis – a source I always dip into when discussing this type of music but this is reminiscent of that music. It’s large, grand, operatic and full of nuances that defy classification.
‘The Return of Mr Ziganoff’ opens with the sax sounding like car horns, static from the radio, rain smattering the windscreen before a drum n bass rhythm hits and a Davies rundown begins. This is typical Spackman/Davies, both musicians bouncing off each other, reactive and spontaneous. This is where the music works, it’s obviously performed by two people willing to give each other the centre stage and it just works, one produces the foundation, the other adds the interest and the sparkle before passing it back for more depth, more interest, more layering of those industrial clicks, beats and intrigue.
Final track ‘We’ll Hesitate and Then We’ll Leave Dancing’ features a wonderful sax piece two minutes into the song, all set against the sound of a heavy factory machine, hissing and breathing behind before the music changes direction to a Spackman solo and then it changes again, back and forth, a musical table tennis of beats, rhythms and glittery, twinkly sax.
This is easily the most accessible Spackman’s work and acts as an inspiration for the musicality of Davies to explore and develop the music.