Even on paper, The NJE, standing for Near Jazz Experience, is a fascinating concept. Horn led, jazz infused, pop/rock instrumentals, largely unrehearsed and improvised but built on some solid yet supple underlying grooves. But jazz for the purist this isn’t, unless that particular purist also has a hankering for strange proto-Krautrock meets Motown grooves, skittering back beats and rock music on Avant gardening leave.
The album wanders between some big-beat, groovy floor fillers, albeit best-suited to a strange dance club where anything goes and minds are broad when it comes to the generic what is and what isn’t, and music which just seems to pull the floor away from under you. It inhabits the world of the freeform jam but just as easily snaps into a more focused, more song driven mind set and it’s highlights are just as likely to be found in long form rambles as they are in concise hook laden jazz-pop blasts.
This isn’t an album to approach like the usual collection of songs, although undoubtedly each song is a separate train of musical thought. It is at once a holistic album following a singular musical idea and a scattergun deliver of songs within songs, musical tangents and boundless experimentation. It is also one that whilst based in a loose jazz setting spills over into any number of other genres, re-appropriating the best ideas, forms and sounds and bending those into the Near Jazz Experience.
In short approach with caution, an open mind and willingness to have your generic preconceptions shattered…and then some.