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Ishmael Ensemble

A State Of Flow

    Following a banner year for Pete Cunningham - best known as dextrous saxophonist Ishmael and leader of the namesake Ishmael Ensemble - 2019 now brings debut album ‘A State of Flow.’ This new long player builds on Cunningham’s work as proud protector of Bristolian heritage, sketching loving sonic pictures of the South West in his Bristol-inspired ‘Severn Songs’ series, whilst also incubating local visual and musical talent, within the Ensemble.

    ‘A State Of Flow’ touches on various styles of jazz, stirring ambient invocations, club-ready percussive workouts, spiralling grooves & hazy psychedelic electronica. This would be a confusing melange, but for Cunningham’s excursions as a genre-agnostic DJ – something evident in the real house shuffle of ‘Lapwing’ – which evokes walking into a smoky afterhours haunt and finding a session in full, forward motion or the organic garage beats of ‘Full Circle’ and classic trip hop style ‘Waterfall’ fuelled by Holysseus Fly’s honey toned and evocative vocals.

    This album, borne of strong vision and stronger hometown pride, embellishes Ishmael Ensemble as one of the UK’s finest new groups. As shown across ‘A State of Flow’, the future of Bristol’s musical legacy is in more than capable hands.


    TRACK LISTING

    A1. The Chapel
    A2. Full Circle Feat. Holysseus Fly
    A3. Siren!
    A4. Lapwing
    A5. Yellow House Feat. Yama Warashi
    B1. The River
    B2. First Light
    B3. Waterfall Feat. Holysseus Fly
    B4. Surge

    Ishmael Ensemble

    A State Of Flow- 2022 Repress

      ‘A State Of Flow’ touches on various styles of jazz, stirring ambient invocations, club-ready percussive workouts, spiralling grooves, hazy psychedelic electronica and Japanese lyrics.

      Nodding to the city’s instantly-familiar hilltop location Dower House, ‘Yellow House’ explores geographic duality, with Japan-born, Bristol-based vocalist Yama Warashi singing native-language tales, of the magnetic and pastoral charm, of her adopted home.


      TRACK LISTING

      1. The Chapel
      2. Full Circle (feat. Holysseus Fly)
      3. Siren!
      4. Lapwing
      5. Yellow House (feat. Yama Warashi)
      6. The River (feat Yazz Ahmed)
      7. First Light
      8. Waterfall (feat. Holysseus Fly)
      9. Surge 

      Bristol experimental jazz collective Ishmael Ensemble reveal their expansive new album “Visions of Light”. Proceesing “A State of Flow” their sophomore record sees the group reimagine what an ‘ensemble’ can do; expanding into a shifting collective, where human relationships between artists underpin far-ranging, stunningly ambitious and emotionally heavyweight compositions.

      Helmed by producer and saxophonist Pete Cunningham, Ishmael Ensemble’s richly inventive 2019 debut “A State Of Flow” marked them out as an explosive new force in UK jazz, imbuing lush cinematic compositions with left-field dub and electronic sensibilities redolent of Bristol’s vital musical landscape. Named The Guardian’s ‘Contemporary Album Of The Month’ and Mojo’s ‘Jazz Album of The Month’, it saw the group perform Maida Vale sessions for both Gilles Peterson and Tom Ravenscroft, as well as feature on compilations for Brownswood Recordings and Soul Jazz Records.

      Ishmael Ensemble has since become a platform for Cunningham to subvert the conventional notions of producer/artist relationships, unsettling genre tags, and transcending the familiar landscape of UK jazz itself. Across the album’s 10 tracks, Cunningham practices a holistic approach with a long list of collaborators. Together, they explore vast new sonic terrain with an honesty, intimacy and emotional heft impossible for a conventional band.

      “Visions Of Light” tells the story of Ishmael Ensemble’s development across its two sides. The first draws from the energy Cunningham and his bandmates discovered whilst extensively touring “A State Of Flow”. The album opens with a cascade of harp glissandos and the gorgeous “Feather” – Holysseus Fly’s lush vocal lulling the listener into a false sense of security, before her voice is warped beyond recognition in the high-octane, cacophonous “Wax Werk”. The tracks that follow take a darker, heavier turn. The driving, uninhibited performances of Stephen Mullins (guitar) and Rory O’Gorman (drums), along with Jake Spurgeon’s agile synth work, lay the foundation for Cunningham to deliver his most confident and direct saxophone performances to date.

      Side B sees Cunningham settle into his role as producer and collaborator, resetting the scene with the vivid and playful “Looking Glass”, inviting vocalist, harpist and strings arranger STANLAEY to take centre stage. The landscape shifts again for the movingly nostalgic “Morning Chorus”, whilst “The Gift” sees the angelic vocals of Tiny Chapter (Waldo’s Gift) initiate a dizzying crescendo of swirling synthesisers and string arrangements. When “Visions Of Light” resolves with the gorgeous slow-burner “January”, it is with an unmistakable hopefulness – something that, in these times of disquietude, is urgently felt.


      TRACK LISTING

      Side A
      1. Intro
      2. Feather
      3. Wax Werk
      4. Soma Centre
      5. Empty Hands

      Side B
      1. Looking Glass
      2. Morning Chorus
      3. Visions Of Light
      4. The Gift
      5. January


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