Album Review: Slow Knife – A Hymn Supreme

The Breakdown

A beautiful, expressionistic and transcendental journey through jazz,ambient electronics and improvisation lavish on us from the Todmorden experimentalists
Fr33zehead 8.0

Todmorden experimentalists Slow Knife have returned with a second album, the fully improvised two track long player, A Hymn Supreme.

Taking its lead more than likely (as well as half of its title) fromJohn Coltrane opus, it’s explores spiritual jazz, but alongside noise electronics and lyrically explores the ‘authenticity of spiritual transcendence’.

Part 1 lies very close to some of the Coltrane, at various points quoting the original, as electronics, splashes of free jazz and this misty electronic hue hangs over the music. It’s never oppressive, it just serves to cloud the musical issues, so the listener feels in the dark, almost stumbling on new ideas and turns in the direction as things slowly unfurl as the track meanders its way to some 20 minutes. Of the lyrical content, the band say it ‘utilises recent developments in AI software Chat GPT 4. Used as a tool, the AI was fed references and poetic boundaries to create the accompanying poem Through a conversation with the AI, a series of revisions were made until the poem was complete The AI was used to create a conversation between the seemingly authentic, being human, and the in-authentic, AI – exploring the dichotomy between authenticity and machine Where do the boundaries of authenticity lie?’

Part two explores a different terrain, one which has been shaped by the likes of Popol Vuh and the Radiophonicworkshop. It’s colder, icier even, and these linear chords and ambient lines are slowly distorted – crumpled even, and bleed slowly into each other. Drums cadjoles and expound without providing continuity as reverential organ sounds dominate at points, while jazz and experimental classical and ambient electronica moulds itself into this long, flexible whole. Over the top they’re a poem, a real lift poem this time on psychedelic experience, transcendence and the authenticity of it all.

Recorded in the sessions for their upcoming album Disobey Your King’, at Liverpools Quarry Studios and inspired by some of the work of drone supergroup Sun O))), A Hymn Supreme. Is the sort of album to spend some time with, because it avails its beauty and sense of journey (yeah, a transcendental one at that) upon time being afforded to it. And trust us, it’s worth it.

Previous Album Review: Muito Kaballa – Like A River : a refreshing burst of inventive new fusion.
Next Gallery and Set-list: Obituary / Pest Control - The Academy, Dublin 04.09.2023

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