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Cobblestone Jazz - Modern Deep Left Quartet

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Artist: Cobblestone Jazz

Album: Modern Deep Left Quartet

Label: !K7

Review date: Mar. 29, 2010

The title of Cobblestone Jazz’s sophomore album refers to the expanded version of the Canadian trio — Mathew Jonson, Danuel Tate and Tyger Dhula — when joined by kindred spirit Colin de la Plante (a.k.a. the Mole). Now that the new guy is full-time, Cobblestone Jazz celebrates their permanent transition into the Modern Deep Left Quartet by employing eight arms for some gracefully economical and assuredly restrained dance music on the fly.

What starts off seeming a bit too cool and becalmed — played at low volume, opener "Chance Dub" sounds stuck in place, just cycling through a stock arpeggio in seven-plus inert minutes — turns out hypnotically filigreed. At closer inspection, the track is full of subtle shifts and slight alterations; accents are flipped and the beat slowly reveals its clicking gears and interlocking pieces. Momentum is massing, the battery’s getting charged, and the remainder of the album expends the energy, starting with the second track, "Sun Child" (no, even with four brains on deck, these tune-smart producers take it easy on the titles). One of few certifiably (acid) jazz-tinged cuts here, it’s rife with the group’s signature touches: the hazy breath of Tate’s vocoder and the tingly dollops of his electric piano. But it’s work like the later "Mr. Polite" and "Cromagnon Man" that shows an entirely different side of Cobblestone Jazz — one that’s not quite deep, but certainly left-field.

For the most part, the group breezily dashes through airy arrangements of caffeinated, chrome-plated bossa-nova rhythms with Tate’s vaporized voice and fluorescent finger-work giving shape to the skip-step flux. These two tracks, side-by-side on the CD sequencing like conjoined twins, find the group boldly stripping down and amping up. Hedonistic and brute, this work is hard to reckon with; particularly when considering the group’s somewhat stately, measured approach elsewhere. We get Full Metal Jacket samples, glutinous bass chortling in time to a robust march, and an incessant refrain that repeats, aptly enough, "you don’t know how to take it." But "Cromagnon Man," with its ringing handsets, robotic chorus and all manner of future-schlock, is the real oddity. A playful attempt at old-school, Belleville Three machine music, it comes off like techno-tempered Trans Am.

The same abandon and bulkiness of these tracks surges through "Fiesta", albeit in a more diluted, holistically-strewn way. Sure, there’s still a thick, striated tube of bass slithering across the soundfield, but the other elements dodge its path, fluttering in the peripheries. By closer "Midnight Sun," all’s spent. Uncorking the FX and dialing-down the tempo to a shuffling skulk, it’s a delightfully bubbly, Balearic digestif after a course load at times lean and light, at others rich and gristly.

By Bernardo Rondeau

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