To pioneer a movement is no modest feat. To inspire creation is no meagre accomplishment. Acoustic Ladyland can however justifiably lay claim to both. The vanguard of the British post-jazz movement revealed their latest incarnation with an ever erupting swell of emotion and creativity. Electric guitarist, Chris Sharkey, co-founder of the LIMA Collective, replaces keyboardist, Tom Cawley who left to pursue his own project, "Curios". Poised with new material ready for the glare of the public eye, this resplendent quartet played with all the passion and verve that audiences have come to expect and on account of the rearranged line-up, a stimulating new dimension was revealed.
The compositions revealed an array of styles while maintaining a unique and identifiable sound. Drummer, Seb Rochford propelled the group with his distinctive punch and vitality from up-beat ska, through forceful funk to reflective post-rock. The taut, unpretentious and hard-edged melodies towed the compositions with phrases that seemed to have jazz in their genes but were played with the ferocity and drive of punk.
Highlights included, "Plant Hunters" which opened with a characteristically punk/rock but jazz infused melodic phrase played by tenor saxophonist, Pete Wareham over a light rock pulse laid down by Rochford. As Ruth Goller, on electric bass, broke into a strong blues/rock hook, Sharkey supplemented Wareham’s melodic lines with insistent, penetrating punk voicing. Having already worked with Wareham and Goller in "The Final Terror", the foundations for this demonstration of mutual understanding and appreciation had been set. Wareham’s saxophone roared like a tortured beast before transitioning into a jazz/rock vamp to draw the composition towards and ending illuminated by Sharkey’s sparse psychedelic phrasing. Rochford and Goller began, "Have Another Go" by combining a self-assured punk/rock beat with a throbbing baseline in advance of a bop-punk groove. Sharkey featured with brutal punk expansions on the main melodic line and phrasing which referenced Hendrix and McLaughlin.
The material performed will constitute the basis for Acoustic Ladyland’s next album. On this evening’s evidence, it will surely prove to be among 2009’s most dazzling releases.