2021 has started on a high note. This blog has already mentioned three artists who were new to me until this year (Siv Jacobsen, The Staves and Noisy Diners). This week’s Release Radar has continued the trend, introducing the Old Man to two more (Lau, Yasmin Williams), while Burning Shed has added Lifesigns to the rapidly growing list of artists to be explored. But for this album-of-the-month post I’ve chosen another recommendation from my Hubzilla feed: Ocelot of Salvation by the Polish jazz trio, Immortal Onion.
> Immortal Onion are:
- Piano : Tomir Śpiołek
- Bass : Ziemowit Klimek
- Drums : Wojtek Warmijak
The band was formed in 2016 and they released their first single, Bugaboo, that same year.
That bug must, surely, come from the same stable as the GoGo Penguin – avant-garde instrumental jazz constructed from keys of ivory, long strings of gut and drumheads of stretched skins. In this case, though, the keys are probably plastic, the strings have a core of steel and the skins, too, are of a synthetic material. The tools may be inert but the music is bursting with vitality.
After the bug’s introduction the urge to meet the pussy cat that is the band’s first album became irresistible. Ocelot of Salvation (2017) takes us further along the buggy path and a little off the beaten tracks.
- First Steps
- When a Dog Poops on Your Carpet
- Ocelot of Salvation
Judging by the titles, the tracks seem to come in pairs: the album’s life begins with Gestation and it soon takes its First Steps; then illness strikes, leading to a creeping Asthenia that builds to a suffocating Torpor; recovery brings a more mundane form of misery When a Dog Poops on Your Carpet and all attempts to Domesticate the beast fail; and, finally, our emotions soar and crash when we are captivated by the Ocelot of Salvation only to witness the Agony wrought by tooth and claw.
There is something magical in the way a fertilised egg develops into the little bundle of life we call a baby. And the Immortal Onion has splashed a big dollop of magic into Gestation. A classical piano overture morphs into a soft pulsating form that twitches and kicks as it grows and comes to term. Soon the infant is on his feet and taking his First Steps with astonishing self-assurance; he sways a bit but a rippling electric bass testifies to a supreme inner confidence.
Then, one day, the young man’s limbs become heavy and his eyelids droop. The life battery has run down. The bass can still make ripples but it takes an effort and his feet stumble. The doctor calls it Asthenia but she has no effective treatment. So he slouches on the sofa and slowly slips into a drowsy Torpor. The doorbell rings, but he doesn’t get up. In this dozy state, the bell’s insistent electric keyboard chimes are mildly soothing.
The illness subsides, the body recharges and a bowed double bass sings with relief. But, When a Dog Poops on Your Carpet, rage and disgust spur you into a clean-up frenzy. That done, you can relax again to the strains of a gentle piano solo. And then your thoughts turn to puppy training. They say music soothes the savage breast but gentle piano music doesn’t begin to Domesticate the naughty canine. In the end it gives you the screaming abdabs.
Well, there’s nothing for it, we’ll have to swap the untameable dog for a wild cat – the Ocelot of Salvation. Oh, that’s such a lovely creature! Her eyes sparkle with light reflected from shiny piano keys, her fur is as soft as bowed bass strings, and she moves with the grace of percussion-perfect timing.
The cat with leopard spots has caught the scent of prey. A Morse code message alerts the waiting film crew and the camera zooms in close. The camouflaged feline crouches low, creeps slowly forward. She pounces. Feathers fly. The bird screeches in Agony and then falls still. The camera stutters and stops; its operator turns away muttering incoherent thoughts. This creature is both beauty and beast.
This new year keeps on giving. The Immortal Onion rivals GoGo Penguin in the modern jazz trio arena – and there can be no better recommendation than that. Their compositions may not be quite as thrilling but their use of electric bass and synthesisers provides greater variety of texture. Better still, Ocelot of Salvation is fantastic value for money (the digital album is priced at $5 on Bandcamp and just £2.99 from the iTunes Store).
This cat gets a Crotchety 5* rating.