Manchester trio GoGo Penguin are hotly tipped as the rising stars of the UK Jazz scene. Featuring pianist Chris Illingworth, bassist Nick Blacka and drummer Rob Turner, GoGo Penguin are an exhilarating live act, drawing on a heady brew of influences from Aphex Twin to Shostakovich, Massive Attack to Manchester’s grey rain-streaked urban streets – they create a brave new sound all their own.
Their début album Fanfares (Gondwana Records) has won rave reviews from the Guardian to BBC Music and support from the likes of Mike Chadwick and Gilles Peterson and was nominated for Best Jazz Album at the World Wide Awards. It is the band’s unique ability to synthesise and develop each others melodic and harmonic ideas while drawing on music from classical to electronica that makes GoGo Penguin’s music so enthralling and their début album such a powerful opening salvo from a compelling new voice in UK music.
Their second album v2.0 “pushes the acoustic piano trio format further into the future” (Jazzwise Magazine). When Nick Blacka joined the band in late 2012 he brought a new cohesiveness to the band’s sound and if their earlier breakthrough début hit Fanfares offered a band prototype, then v2.0 is the wildly successful reboot. Brilliantly recorded by their long-term sound engineer Joe Reiser and studio engineer Brendan Williams, the band have taken full advantage of the increased recording budget, the success of their début afforded, to record a statement of real intent. A gloriously vibrant technicolor snap-shot of a band finding their own voice.
Indeed, although they’re predominately an acoustic piano trio, GoGo Penguin’s music draws from many areas of contemporary electronic music, one where you can hear arcade game bleeps, glitchy breakbeats, hypnotic Aphex-style melodies, grinding bass lines and a rumbling low-end. It has been described as “acoustic electronica”, a term which perfectly sums up their modus operandi. “Many of the songs on this album started out as electronic compositions that I made on sequencing software like Logic or Ableton,” says drummer Turner. “I’ll then play it to the band and we’ll find ways of replicating it acoustically.” And it is that ability to synthesis the seemingly disparate influences of electronica, jazz and classical music into their own unique musical DNA that gives GoGo Penguin such an instantly recognisable and compelling sound. One that is set to reach an even wider audience with the release of Man Made Object (Blue Note) on February 5 2016.
“Sometimes an album stops you in your tracks. The brilliant jazz-meets-electronica release from this remarkable Mancunian trio, is one of them”. Spotify