And in Other News
Continuing the Welsh theme, for this Track of the Week I have chosen Juniper by the Cardiff jazz and trip hop band, Slowly Rolling Camera. SRC were formed in 2013 and consisted, then, of Dave Stapleton (composer and keyboard player), Dionne Bennett (lyricist and vocalist), Deri Roberts (producer and master of electronic effects) and Elliott Bennett (drums and percussion).
The band released its first album in 2014 and I can think of no better introduction to them than this (audio only) YouTube video. When the track, the album and the band share the same name it has to be a statement of intent, surely?
The camera, here, starts rolling so slowly that Crotchety Man’s eyes become heavy and a comfortable drowsiness creeps over him. Rich round double bass notes step slowly into the shot; a far off, soulful voice calls from someplace out of our view. A closeup of a woman’s face fades in, but her expression is ambiguous. Soft low strings draw a picture of intense emotion as if she is suspended somewhere between pain and ecstasy. The sound swells and a fervent saxophone turns up the contrast before fading away again. It is a lovely piece of cinema but there are many interpretations of the film.
SRC released their second album, All Things, in 2016. Their third album is due for release on 6th July and the pre-release trailer takes the form of a one minute exact from the title track: the Juniper that I promised you a few paragraphs ago. (The full 7 minute 45 second track is on bandcamp, Spotify and other streaming services now.)
Some time between All Things and Juniper SRC parted company with Dionne Bennett. From this blogger’s point of view that’s a shame both because we lose the vocals and because, with her dark skin and even darker Afro-style hair, she makes a visual impact that the other members of the cast can’t match.
The departure of the singer may also indicate a shift from trip hop towards a jazzier style, judging by the musicians on the forthcoming album. Apart from the three permanent band members, SRC’s bandcamp page lists one guitarist, two saxophonists, a trumpeter and a bass player. The text then mentions a further two saxophonists and a trumpeter under ‘additional musicians’. That sounds like a jazz band to me, but we’ll have to wait until Juniper comes out to be sure.
The Juniper single could almost be a laid back tune by GoGo Penguin. It has a similar vibe. But the lead instrument on this track is an electric guitar and there are lots of electronic sounds creating a bigger, fuller sound stage. I gave a Spotify link above but, as I can find no video of the full track, here it is again:
Juniper berries are, of course, what gives gin its distinctive flavour. Perhaps gin cocktails inspired Slowly Rolling Camera‘s latest single, I don’t know, but I’m quite sure the spark didn’t come from Donovan’s Jennifer Juniper.