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  • Writer's pictureThe Sound Cafe

Jazz Collective High Pulp Return With Unprecedented Composition & Groove On ‘Dirtmouth'

By Stevie Connor.

Jazz collective High Pulp return with unprecedented composition and groove on ‘Dirtmouth' alongside critically acclaimed saxophonist and ANTI- Records labelmate James Brandon Lewis. Seamlessly mixing jazz, hip-hop and rock, High Pulp’s brand of experimental jazz is both vintage and futuristic, mixing everything from Gil Evans and Miles Davis to Stereolab and Tortoise.

The upcoming new album by High Pulp, ‘Days In The Desert’, reveals a band realising their strengths, deepening their bonds and pushing themselves into a thrilling new sonic vista. A third single from the album entitled ‘Dirtmouth’ has been released today that features tenor saxophonist and labelmate James Brandon Lewis. “The way that we think of jazz, James is that,” states drummer Bobby Granfelt. “He told us he liked our non-traditional approach, which is cool coming from someone having all this credibility within the traditional jazz scene.” Granfelt continues: “The instruments bob and weave in such a way that they feel like they’re dancing with and around each other. We were listening to a lot of ‘Con Todo El Mundo’ by Khruangbin at the time and were inspired to make a groove-oriented, guitar-based song. Once we laid the foundation, we invited James to bless it with his Sonny Rollins meets Fugazi approach and it was game over!"

"I am thankful High Pulp invited me to explore my version of crazy on such a great grooving track,” adds Lewis. “It gives me jazz, world music and otherworldly sonics all at the same time. The best music is the kind that never sits still, at least for me!” ‘Days In The Desert’ features an array of all-star guests that push the High Pulp sound even further out into the ether. They range from Lewis and Chicago guitar legend Jeff Parker to Impulse! harpist Brandee Younger and Madlib collaborator/ Brainfeeder OG Daedelus. Working with these musicians also draws High Pulp closer to the genre-pushing jazz of Chicago-based International Anthem, a label that the band admires. It also encapsulates their own approach, knowing their musical chops while also favouring the immediacy of a great indie-rock song.

High Pulp consists of keyboardist Antoine Martel, a mad scientist with a wall of modular synths and a passion for film scores and abstract soundscapes; keyboardist Rob Homan, whose innate ability to process, deconstruct and reassemble material on the fly borders on the scary; bassist Scott Rixon, a convert from the metal and hardcore world with impeccable pop sensibilities and a selfless ability to serve the song; tenor saxophonist Victory Ngyuen, a Pharoah Sanders acolyte with an ear for urgent, entrancing solos of the highest order; alto saxophonist Andrew Morrill, whose bold tones and fearless harmonic sensibilities have earned him a reputation for dragging the old school into the 21st century; and, last but not least, Granfelt, whose hip-hop and bebop-inspired drumming laid the initial foundation for the entire project. The group’s well received second album, ‘Pursuit Of Ends’ (2022), balanced meticulous composition with visceral spontaneity and performances that were nothing short of virtuosic, fuelled by raw, ecstatic horn runs ducking and weaving their way around thick bass lines and dizzying percussion.

“When you put us all together, our sound isn’t so much a fusion as it is a synthesis,” explains Granfelt. “There are a lot of personalities coming from very different places in High Pulp. We use it all as fuel to create something that’s totally our own.”


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