The Kandinsky Effect: Somnambulist (Cuneiform)

Outstanding third LP from the eclectic jazz trio

Released Jul 19th, 2015 via Cuneiform / By Norman Miller
The Kandinsky Effect: Somnambulist (Cuneiform) The Kandinsky Effect are a great advert for multinationalism and diversity - formed in 2007 on Paris’s cosmopolitan jazz scene they were then honed on the road in the US while absorbing influences from musical currents ranging from prog and classic rock to drum and bass.

This third album - following 2013's Synesthesia and their eponymous 2010 debut – sees saxman and band leader Warren Walker, bassist Gaël Petrina and drummer Caleb Dolister deliver a dozen slices of often brilliant loose-limbed jazz marked by a deep sense of groove, rollercoaster tempo changes and incendiary playing.

If you play the album in one fell swoop, its free-flowing nature and repeated sonic tropes – slithering deep-throated sax runs mixed with raucous parps, hypnotic pulsing bass, fantastic percussive interjections - can make the tracks seem to blur into one another. But that's not a criticism, more a comment on how deeply the groove grips. Taken in isolation there's usually something to marvel at in almost every track.

The outstanding 'Flips', for example, seductively combines proggy intro, free-flowing sax spirals underpinned, edgy stabbing bass alongside deep rhythmic growls that somehow manage to hint at Machinehead-era Deep Purple.

The soaring 'Tagzhout' and 'Sadfly' surge with an energetic blend of Middle Eastern and electronic vibes, while rock riffs reappear on the thrillingly breathless 'Chomsky'. Stately bell-like sax blasts back Dolister's niggling drums to drive the opening 'Copalchi Distress Signal'. More languid tracks like 'Sunbathing Manatee', the bluesy sax-led 'Annabelle Chases A Bug' and the Tortoise-like 'Petit Loup' are moments of calm amid the overall high tempo vibe.

A word too in praise of independent US label Cuneiform, who have built up a fabulously distinctive modern jazz and avant guitar roster well worth delving. Check out the likes of Raoul Björkenheim, Dylan Ryan/Sand, Henry Kaiser/Ray Russell, Anthony Pirog, Schnellertollermeier, The Cellar and Point plus Michael Gibbs and the NDR Bigband.