Surprise Chef

Education & Recreation

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Record Label
Big Crown Records

About this item

Surprise Chef’s music is based on evoking mood; their vivid arrangements utilize time and space to build soundscapes that invite the listener into their world. The quintet’s distinct sound pulls from 70s film scores, the funkier side of jazz, and the samples that form the foundation of hip-hop. They push the boundaries of instrumental soul and funk with their own approach honed by countless hours in the studio, studying the masters, and perhaps most importantly, the ‘tyranny of distance’ that dictates a unique perspective to their music.

Surprise Chef is Lachlan Stuckey on guitar, Jethro Curtin on keys, Carl Lindeberg on bass, Andrew Congues on drums, and Hudson Whitlock - the latest member who does it all from percussion to composing to producing. Their self proclaimed ‘moody shades of instrumental jazz-funk’ have a bit of everything: punchy drums, infectious keys, rhythm guitar you might hear on a Studio One record, and flute lines that could be from a Blue Note session. But when you step back and take in the entirety of their sound and approach, you'll hear and see a group greater than the sum of its parts.

In many ways Surprise Chef embodies the idiom ‘the benefits of limits.’ They were limited in that there weren't many people making or talking about instrumental jazz/soul/funk in Southeast Australia, let alone putting out records. This left them to develop their sound and approach in a kind of creative isolation where a small circle of friends and like-minded musicians fed off each other. ‘Being in Australia, being so far away, we only get glimpses and glances of this music’s origins,’ Stuckey says. ‘But hearing a label like Big Crown was one of the first times we realized you could make fresh, new soul music that wasn't super retro or just nostalgic.’

This approach is on full display throughout their new album “Education & Recreation”. Tracks like “Velodrome” pair chunky drums with an earworm synth line that has all the making of something you would find on an Ultimate Breaks & Beats compilation while numbers like “Iconoclasts” show their knack for tasteful use of space. From the crushing intro of “Suburban Breeze” to the floaty mellow bop of “Spring’s Theme” Surprise Chef has weaved together an album that takes you through peaks and valleys of emotion and provides a vivid soundtrack that will pull you deeper into your imagination. There is a beauty in the vast space for interpretation of instrumental music and they are adding a modern classic to the canon with this new album. You can imagine hip-hop producers 10, 20 years from now sampling their dusty wares in much the same way as Dorothy Ashby, Arthur Verocai are dug by present day in-the-know beatsmiths are today.


Matt says: More languid, head-nodding funk & soul instrumentals from these rising Melbournians. They possess the relaxed, effortless sway of Khruangbin but with the swagger and smokiness you'd perhaps associate with Daptone (or indeed their current stable, Big Crown) signings. Both suited to sun lounging by the sea or downing whiskey at the jazz club; there's an open endedness to their compositions which let's the mind wander and dream.


Side 1
1. Bakery Pledge Of Allegiance
2. Grinners Circle
3. Velodrome
4. Suburban Breeze
5. Conversation Piece
6. Iconoclasts
Side 2
1. Money Music
2. Spring's Theme
3. Together Again
4. Winter’s Theme
5. Ten & Two
6. Goldie’s Lullaby

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