Casting deep, dark and swirling grooves across a wide and playful pool, Zindu dives headlong into experimental jazz-funk-rock-world fusion on their new album Train to Jupiter.
Coming nearly a decade on the heels of their last release, the LP finds the band several evolutions in from their initial iteration, but still as focused as ever on a rhythm-heavy, “polymorphic” sound. The characterization is meant to encompass not only the dancing about between genres and time signatures, but experimentation extending to their instrumental layout. The band emphasizes bass and rhythm, featuring two percussionists, as well as frequent harmonization between the vocals and the saxophone—all while nearly entirely eschewing traditional chordal elements like keys or guitar.
While they might define their sound by what instruments they leave out, Train to Jupiter fleshes itself out but how sufficiently it fills space. Sliding upright bass lines often create a platform for the rest of the band to bounce off with syncopated drumming emphasizes the tinny rattle of hi-hats and long bursts of sax stream down the center of the spectrum. The vocals do harmonize with the sax at times, but at others percolate to the surface in near scat-like acts of soloing.
The minimalist inspiration and rock roots remind me at times of Morphine, although Zindu provides a sound a bit more expansive. There's a lot of similar sax work: from abrupt, sweeping descending progressions to fluttering flourishes. And both bands do away with traditional structure, putting the bass, drums and sax front and center. Morphine, though intentionally keeps everything on the low end—heck they use a tuned down, two-string bass as their lead melody instrument—and their sound is derivative of and structured in rock music. Zindu, on the other hand, despite having a very deep sound, keep things light with sax and vocals playing double duty on the treble end.
Since the sound varies from song to song, it's hard to suss a couple out that are indicative of Zindu's sound writ large. Hard, but not impossible. The track “Tweedle,” really covers all of the bases, starting with tumbling drum rolls and near-bossa nova vocals before bouncing between spinning sax lines and quick-thumping bass progressions. It shifts in the middle towards a cool jazz-rock riff and has a clattering, high energy breakdown before the song is out. “Qwerty” is a late album, instrumental track—one of the few to feature classical guitar—with an absolutely killer bass grove that simmers just south of boiling over.
The quintet professionally recorded and mastered Train to Jupiter in their hometown of Portland, Oregon. The pro touch shows in the most subtle of manners in that it sounds live, but you know it's not—the frequent multi-tracking and overall depth of field belay deft hands in recording and production.
I can easily recommend this album to jazz fusion fans. Here's to hoping these guys don't wait another ten years to put out the next one!
We are dedicated to informing the public about the different types of independent music that is available for your listening pleasure as well as giving the artist a professional critique from a seasoned music geek. We critique a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
Are you one of our faithful visitors who enjoys our website? Like us on Facebook