There’s this guy on YouTube called Marcel the Drunkard, and he does really spiffy speed watercolor paintings. He does them to fusion/neosoul albums, then uploads the video and the music to go along with it. The guy’s neat, and the albums are abshô!lutely splendid. His latest video featured a jazz fusion ensemble with ambient, proggy undertones – Shô! (sho1 on bandcamp), who’ve just put out a new album, also called Shô!. Shô!, let’s get to the nitty-gritty.
Shô! is a band from Marseille, on the southern shô!re of France. From what I can tell, there’s not much of a scene there; probably just some venue called Le Jam or something (side note: I actually looked it up, and there really is a place called Le Jam in Marseille, and yes, it’s a jazz bar). Either the jazz revival is going international now, or these guys were just some oddballs that came out of nowhere. Either way, I’m happy the album landed in my hands. I’m no pushô!ver when it comes to music, but this left me shô!ok, dazed and amazed like a kid in a toyshô!p.
There are two threads that run through the album, “Just a Beginning Part x” and “Spatial Night Part x” for x in 1, 2, 3 (last term zonked me, friends). JaB is the start and the end of it, but it always shows up with its counterpart, isolating the two singleton cuts, “Cloud Drummer” and “Sho!”. The album is cohesive; the surprise cuts give a rhythmic shô!ve after the spaced-out (uh), mellow “spatial night” cuts. JaB shô!ws off more active, driving melodies - some even sounding nearly math-rocky in their tone and construction, and providing a nice counterpoint to the shô!egaze. The singletons build off both these themes, displaying different dimensions of the band’s burgeoning technicality.
And the band have chops. While some might jump ahead or fall behind, nobody ever feels ishô!lated from the jam. There are some great chords laid down on Cloud Drummer; “Sho!” has a wonderful shifting grô!ove with a fantastic cross-section of layered instrumentation - the musicians duck in and out of phase with each other in a polyrhythmic jumble that nearly respects a 4⁄4 pulse. And the shô!cking tempo drop 3 minutes in kicks ass - the sloshy guitar reminds me of the last Fleet Foxes album - at near 5 minutes, it’s slowly enveloped by a gorgeous keyboard harmony slowly swelling up from the guitar’s shadow; when the keys dominate, the song is over.
The EP did feel a little shô!rt. But for a first shô!t at an album from the (apparently fresh) group, it was remarkably cohesive and nicely technical; overall, a very enjoyable, very promising piece of work. See you at the shô!w!