Porpoise Corpus

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Reviews of Porpoise Corpus


28/12/2007 Jack Masserick - Evening Standard

BIG IN 2008-
Amid a throng of incoherent groups operating in that uncharted area where jazz rubs shoulders with punk, rock, free-improv and electronica, Porpoise Corpus stand out like beacons of sanity and invention.

Whereas most such bands produce nothing more than a chaotic racket, this adventurous sextet has an impressive underlying architecture which holds everything together. Their debut album and nightclub performances involve vigorous improvisation over a sequence of sketches that produce a witty and absorbing set, full of changes in style and pace.

Looked at individually, pianist David O'Brien, the brains of this refreshing outfit, and fluent tenorist Tom Challenger are clearly stars in the making. This could be a busy year for them all.

Jack Masserick - Evening Standard


01/12/2007 Tom Barlow, Jazzwise, Dec 07

"A strikingly original debut from keyboardist Dave O’Brien, Porpoise Corpus is among the most intriguing Britjazz albums I’ve heard all year. The band’s fusion of raucous punk fusion, complex, electric Headhunter-y grooves and gently melodic acoustic jazz is dynamic and utterly European. O’Brien – winner of last year’s Peter Wittingham Award – is a fine pianist, angular and Monkish at times as demonstrated on the characterful opener ‘Neverending’. Yet it is his vision as a composer/arranger that is even more striking, be it the racy 70s outer space fusion ‘Severage On All Other Lines’, featuring a fiery sax solo from Challenger, or ‘Out of Sight, Out Of Mind’ – a gorgeous apposite straight ahead ballad. O’Brien’s sidemen are also out of sight – guitarist Bratoeff combining devilishly with dummer Guy Wood and bassist Spencer Brown on the excellent riff-based ‘Blind, Insane’. Meanwhile, O’Brien’s musical shapeshifting also occurs in the space of single tunes (‘Silence is Gold and Diamonds’ a case in point: as bold as it is beautiful with a lovely solo piano that moves into a whirlwind of horn arrangements). Porpoise Corpus might be an odd name, but ut comes highly recommended: one to watch."

(Tom also put us at number 4, in his top 10 new releases of 2007.)


16/11/2007 Alan Brownlee - Manchester Evening News

"AMBITIOUS and adventurous jazz of dazzling variety, the fare ranges from buoyant fusion (The Seventh Trip), to haunting loveliness (Neverending). Predicted Consequence crosses Mahavishnu Orchestra with Death Metal and is over in a minute.

"The strengths lie in the writing - all the tunes are by pianist Dave O'Brien, a mercurial melodist - and the top-class musicianship.

"The elegant, impassioned saxophone of Tom Challenger announces a star in the making, while Spencer Brown and Guy Wood make a marvellously funky and fiery rhythm team."

Alan Brownlee - Manchester Evening News


08/11/2007 Jack Massarik, Evening Standard

"They have a daffy name and all look incredibly young, but Porpoise Corpus make seriously good music. Their debut album contains many impressive moments and last night they sounded even better. A sextet with two saxes, guitar, piano, bass and drums, they played stylish, fast-moving, episodic originals that held the interest as securely as the ever-changing scenery from a train window.

"Thrash-rock passages by drummer Guy Wood and bassist Spencer Brown gave way to interweaving sax lines or gentle, semi-classical solo-piano meandering but every change of pace was linked by strong logic. Some ingenious melodic twists, especially for the saxes, also flickered with rare jazz elegance.

"Pianist-composer Dave O'Brien, who did the arranging, can take a bow. Beneath his overgrown Beatle haircut ticks a jazz brain of unusual vision and originality. British writing of such intelligence and whimsical, anything-is-possible spirit has not been heard since the young Django Bates was first unleashed.

"Frameworks as fine as these called for superior soloists. Jonathan Bratoeff, extracting a remarkably warm, round tone from his solid-body guitar, lyrical altoist Tom Ward and fluent tenorist Tom Challenger all played brilliantly. O'Brien kept a lower profile, but his understated explorations were no less fascinating. Keep an eye on him."
- Jack Massarik, Evening Standard 08.11.07


05/11/2007 Chris Parker

This eponymous debut album from the sextet Porpoise Corpus (their name comes from the fictional body of literature produced by the cetaceans in the Illuminatus! trilogy) perfectly captures their immediately appealing sound: leader/keyboard player Dave O'Brien's compositions unaffectedly draw as much on fusion and occasional bursts of heavy, abrasive rock as on the relatively straightforward jazz head-and-exposition approach, his keyboards and Spencer Brown's bass moving easily between acoustic and electric instruments. Meanwhile, Jonathan Bratoëff (guitar) flickers and swoons through the more lyrical numbers and struts confidently through the up-tempo fare; saxophonists Tom Challenger (tenor) and Tom Ward (alto) play themes in harmony in a manner that sometimes recalls the 1980s London-based band B Shops for the Poor as well as contributing attractively blustering but thoughtful solos; and Guy Wood pushes the whole thing along with a superb display of robustly propulsive drumming. The band's material (all by O'Brien) is basically divided between the softly noodling lyricism of 'Out of Sight, Out of Mind' or 'Silence is Gold and Diamonds' and the tricksier garrulity of fusion, sparked either by comparatively simple riffs or more dramatic, complex heads, but whichever mode they're operating in, Porpoise Corpus display all the imaginative vibrancy and commitment that makes them such a compulsively listenable live act. Recommended.


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