Go Go Penguin - v2.0 (Gondwana Records)

Mancunian jazz trio prove their Mercury Prize nomination was no fluke on sterling second LP

Released Oct 30th, 2014 via Gondwana Records / By Norman Miller
Go Go Penguin - v2.0 (Gondwana Records) Picked out as the 'jazz' contenders for this year's Mercury Prize, Manchester trio GoGo Penguin - pianist Chris Illingworth, new bass man Nick Blacka and drummer Rob Turner – are building nicely on their reputation for combining reflective and propulsive, while referencing styles from trip-hop to classical.

V2.0 is the follow up to their critically acclaimed 2012 debut Fanfares, though it seems to stick more closely to jazz grooves than its genre-busting predecessor. That said, there's plenty of free-flowing jazz intuition in the 10 tracks here.

'Murmuration' is a brilliant opener, all loose percussive swing and noodling bass set against silky piano building and building in post-rock style, suddenly fading beautifully. It's a mood that marks another brilliant track in 'The Letter', a reflective gem that could be a 19th century etude before bursting into broad brushstroke 21st century chamber jazz that's gorgeously hypnotic.

There's contrast with tracks like 'Garden Dog Barbeque' – staccato left hand piano stabs and breathless right hand flurries, leaping into a funky bass-driven main section enlivened by demented classical breaks – as well as 'To Drown in You' with its hustling beats and repetitive piano loops.

'Fort' is another standout, its ethereal piano melody sucked into a dancing percussive pattern with some great bass work by Blacka. The crowd-pleaser 'One Percent' boasts clever interplay between fragmentary motifs that come together into a pulsing main line. 'Shock and Awe' is gorgeous, its mournful sparseness the epitome of late night blue moods.

It was always unlikely to win the Mercury, of course, but this is a great album to file alongside the likes of Neil Cowley, proving 21st century British jazz is in a good place.