I have no idea to where to start with something like this, because I simply have no idea what this is. It certainty dabbles in Jazz, but is by no means Jazz, at times it’s minimalist and yet swathes of sound wash over, it’s can at times seem opaque but the realisation is crystal clear. So yeah, it’s a album of contradictions. The album was conceived by Jesse Webb of Big Naturals and Anthroprophh fame. According to the press release “Webb Developed this improvisational project plainly out of a need to respond, acknowledge and overcome destructive emotion. Laboriously conceived as an accompaniment to an imagined film on themes of loss and isolation, this project is far removed from the soft drone or Philip Glass inspired piano that often accompanies one’s idea of a soundtrack. An original take on this format, The Final Age assimilates howling vocals, experimental percussion and a wide sound palette in such a way that allows a window into disjointed, feverish, ultimately Gothic scenes.”
The band (collective, project?) set out their stall right from the start with their slow building and ominous title track, as the track descends into chaos it makes way for a totally different kind of beast. The brilliantly titled ‘Trust Fund Death Camp Moan’ has a kind of ritualistic beat with which the rest of the band (Paul Allen (The Heads, Anthroprophh), saxophonist Dave McLean (Gnod), vocalist Annette Berlin (Big Joan), trumpeter Pete Judge, violinist Agathe Max (Kuro) ) are left to explore. It becomes apparent that as the album morphs from track to track that musical and emotional exploration is the focus for this album, a moot point would be the very insular, reflective, ‘2 Second Rule’ or the almost Tricky-esque paranoia feel to ’96 Layers’. The dystopia feel to ‘Past Minus Future’. I could go on but suffice to say that each track brings something new, something fresh and revealing to the table.
This is one of those albums that captures something, I’m not sure what, it could be a sense that you are prying into the personal lives of the creators. Although in no way are they the same I can draw certain parallels to recent albums by Kuro and Mesange both of which became my albums of the year (2016, 2017 respectfully). This album however, has even more diversity, even more experimentation, which make the journey through this rich tapestry of sound so bloody exhilarating. This one of those albums that can to my mind be classed as genre defying, it dabble in so much and never outstays in its welcome. This is something that rarely works but in the hands of the right people it becomes something very special indeed.