It’s been an astonishing couple of years for GoGo Penguin, the UK trio of drummer Rob Turner, double bassist Nick Blacka and pianist Chris Illingworth. Their trademark mash-up of minimalist piano themes, deeply propulsive bass lines and electronica-inspired drums has seen their 2014 album 'v2.0' shortlisted for the Mercury Prize. Drawing on a heady brew of influences from Brian Eno, John Cage, Massive Attack and Aphex Twin, GoGo Penguin has created a brave new sound that is wholly their own.
Now signed to iconic jazz label Blue Note Records the trio release their new album. 'Man Made Object is the sound of a band confidently pursuing their own path. “The title is partly inspired by my fascination with ideas of robotics, transhumanism and human augmentation,” says pianist Illingworth, a statement that begs for elaboration. “We’re recreating electronic music on acoustic instruments. It’s like a man-made object that has become humanized and it seemed like a good album title, one that also means something different to each of us, and hopefully to each listener.”
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.”
STAFF COMMENTSMatt says: Manchester has always been known as an innovative city. Here, we push things forward. Bringing jazz's traditional formula kicking and screaming into our time & space are MCR trio GoGo Penguin: a group that'll appeal to millennials, jazz vets and broad-minded young folk alike. Freely accepting (and utilizing) the influence of contemporary technology, before revisiting ideas as an acoustic, piano-led 'band'; ‘Man Made Object’ sees the melancholic, contemplative and sublime moods of the jazz cannon thoroughly explored with sophistication and musicality throughout. Much of the album references the forward thinking emotion of early Boards Of Canada, or the electro-acoustic free jazz of Kieran Hebden; but through detailed, clean recording, deft, sympathetic production and ultra-tight arrangements it feels and sounds like we're live, in front of a proper band, in their very element of proficiency. Seeing musicians this 'in the pocket' and symbiotically, rhythmically connected is rare, and breath-taking to say the least.