Jazz is in the air in this part of Crotchety Land, it seems. Several online music contacts have wandered off along that mysterious twisting path recently. Who knows what they will find? Crotchety Man set off in a different direction; he doesn’t like crowds. But the road kept turning back on itself, back towards the dangerous badlands of experimental music and improvisation.
For a long time now the Crotchety exploration searchlight has been directed mainly at radio and streaming sites. They are good places to find established bands that deserve a place in the silicon and cellular memory banks but had been missed in earlier surveys. The trouble is those sources filter out any exciting, yet-to-be-discovered bands and they do almost nothing to support the artists, no matter how talented.
In principle, those problems have already been solved. The solution is called bandcamp, an organisation whose interests are deliberately aligned with those of the artists they serve. When you buy from bandcamp 80-85% of the money goes to the artist; if you are an up-and-coming band there is some hope that revenue from bandcamp purchases will keep you afloat long enough to make it big.
Of course, it’s not really that simple. It never is. bandcamp has nothing like the exposure of Spotify, iTunes and the like, so there are far fewer potential customers for your releases. There are also a lot of very ordinary, unexciting artists on bandcamp diluting the good stuff to near homeopathic concentrations. It’s so hard to find the pearls in the bandcamp oyster bed that Crotchety Man rarely used it.
Recently, though, there have been at least two occasions when the Crotchety ears have been directed to really good music by artists who are on bandcamp but not on Spotify. It was time to sign up and see what I have been missing. A few days later some recommended listening came in from the bandcamp promotion computer. The first item on the list was album 5 by Ill Considered and it’s a sparkling pearl of experimental, improvised jazz.
Crotchety Man’s curiosity was immediately piqued. “Who are Ill Considered?”, he wondered. (And, parenthetically, the impish inner voice asked which idiot designed a font in which an uppercase ‘i’ looks identical to a lowercase ‘l’?) The answer to mistress curiosity was brief (see next paragraph); the answer to the irksome imp came not at all.
Googling for “ill considered” only throws up their bandcamp page, their Facebook page and a few music review sites; unusually, there is no Wikipedia entry for them. Spotify lists two albums by Ill Considered but has nothing to say about the band. All the information I have has been gleaned, therefore, from bandcamp and YouTube. These quotes give an idea of what Ill Considered are about:
Ill considered are a band comprising four musicians interacting with each other to create freely improvised music, based loosely around simple pre-written themes or composed on the spot. Deep grooves and plaintive melodies ranging from whispered chants to monstrous climaxes, the group react to the mood of the audience and the sonics of the room to create music that is unique to the moment.
Four musicians breaking all the rules, creating new compositions in the moment – No planning, no talking between takes, no idea what music will be made or where the session is going to take them, just a couple of hours snatched at an incredible London studio and a finished product that is wild, outrageously energetic, touching, subtly dynamic, and surprisingly coherent.
Yes, but “who are they?” I hear you ask. Well, the four members of the band are:
Idris Rahman: Saxophone, Bass Clarinet
Leon Brichard: Electric bass, Upright bass
Emre Ramazanoglu: Drums, Nord drums
Satin Singh: Percussion
Although none of the names are British in origin the band is based in the UK. Beyond that Crotchety Man is as ignorant as you, dear reader, about the musicians. He does know a little more about their recordings, though. Surprisingly, Ill Considered have released no less than nine albums since 2017:
- Ill Considered
- Live at the Crypt
- Ill Considered 3
- Live at Total Refreshment Centre
- Live in Camden Town
- Live in Nantes
- An Ill Considered Christmas
- Ill Considered 5
- Ill Considered 6
Here’s Dawn Lit Metropolis, the first track on their debut album, by way of introduction:
If that sounds to you like Hugh Hopper era Soft Machine then we are on the same wavelength. Regular readers of this blog will not be at all surprised to hear that it delights the Crotchety Ears. But it was the slightly more predictable modern jazz of Ill Considered 5 that triggered my first bandcamp purchase. Hearing faint wisps of Back Door and GoGo Penguin as the album played out convinced me that the offer of the whole catalogue for under £30 was too good to miss.
I’ll leave you this week with a bonus track – a live recording that woke me up this Sunday Morning like a glass of chilled, fresh grapefruit juice.
If either of these tracks suit your palate I wholeheartedly recommend taking that snaking path to jazzland, starting with Ill Considered‘s albums 1 & 5. If you’re quick I’ll meet you there.