Partisans – Swamp ★★★★


Whirlwind Recordings
Julian Siegel (ts, ss, clt, b clt), Phil Robson (g), Thad Kelly (el b) and Gene Calderazzo (d). Rec. 2014
By treating us mean, those Partisans keep us keen: this is only their fifth album in 18 years and their first in five since the splendid By Proxy. But, of course, Swamp is worth the wait. It has all those signature sounds: that sax and guitar frontline is all the fresher for their time apart as they lock down, all batteries re-charged.

Look no further than the dazzling West African dance vibe of ‘Flip The Sneck’ that somehow morphs into the gnarliest of guitar breaks. Yet compare and contrast to the intimate chamber feel of ‘Thin Man’ with its geometric patterns, and restrained melody. And beneath it all lies Calderazzo’s fluently flowing rhythms, like some percussive Ariel, tied to neither time nor place yet always in a state of readiness to pair powerfully with Kelly’s bass. Siegel’s range of colours continues to grow, with clarinet now added to his chorus of horns.

This band can be as neurotically edged as you want (‘Veto’) or just plain happy (the gorgeous opening to ‘Overview’). But when it comes down to it, this is just a band that loves playing: and this is an album you’ll love listening to. Please though, not another five-year wait: some of us are getting on a bit.

– Andy Robson