Album review: The Yugoslav Attack’s modern take on traditional jazz is impassioned, unique and compelling: Sophomore album ‘Illusions’ out now via False Peak Records

Juxtaposed against the imagery and messaging of the album’s title, 'Illusions' undoubtedly shows maturity and finesses a direction that The Yugoslav Attack are boldly making their own.  

The Breakdown

False Peak Records 9.0

Bold Melbourne jazz makers The Yugoslav Attack have released new album Illusions, an impressive eight track collection that, according to group frontman James Wiley, take further steps into his own love of jazz, as compared with debut album, Fianchetto, which showed more elements of indie jazz fusion. While this unique combination is still subtly (and wonderfully) present here, the song construction and instrumental sections are far more cohesive as a more traditional jazz album.

Each track taps delicately into autobiographic recollections, starting with title-track opener Illusions and its contemplative vocals that rise gently above rolling percussion and sorrowful brass to deliver the album’s first atmospheric dose of smooth jazz. The satisfyingly mood-infused piano on Less of a Sense sets the scene and provides a solid backdrop for both woodwind and brass to come to the fore, before giving way once again to the piano’s powerful ambience. Wiley’s impassioned vocals lead into Falling, an enigmatic and rhythmic number that, with its hypnotic sax practically begs for a seat by an open fire on a rainy night.

Sombre fourth track (and first single release) The Separation displays perfectly understated musicianship, capturing a feeling of desolation and facilitating thoughts of loneliness with melancholy sax and gloomy keys. The pauses between notes and the lyrical repetition in places serve to augment the sensation of drifting off on emotional tangents. The more uptempo Winter in Sydney tells of experiences living interstate, accompanied by darting piano and strongly accented trumpet and sax.  

All songs in the collection were written by Wiley, the only exception being a rendition of Pamphleteer by The Weakerthans, a perfectly reimagined homage that provides the album’s strong closing track. Come Home was co-written by James Wiley and jazz guitarist James Sherlock, with all songs also co-arranged by Wiley and Sherlock and recorded live by Niko Schauble at Pughouse Studios in Melbourne, in January. Wiley recorded guitar and vocals at his home studio in Preston. Tracks were finally mixed by Rohan Sforcina at Head Gap in Melbourne in February, then mastered by Kathy Naunton at dB Mastering, Sydney in March.

Bandleader and guitarist Wiley (formerly of Newcastle indie/power-pop groups Hot Girls and Summer Policy) made good on his mission to recruit the very best musicians he could from a notoriously competitive Melbourne jazz scene. Together, the group bring to life musical compositions that span a unique combination of genres. Juxtaposed against the imagery and messaging of the album’s title, Illusions undoubtedly shows a maturity, and finesses a direction that The Yugoslav Attack are boldly making their own.  

Cover art by Raphe Coombes from his work titled “Flowering banks of the Wolgan river”. Album design by Graiden Berger.

Providing the perfect soundtrack to a seat by an open fire, a solo night drive, or simply a trip into introspection, these sounds will help you on your way. The Yugoslav Attack are unique and compelling in that they create Blue Note worthy jazz masterfully blended with 90s melodies and themes.

Limited vinyl available NOW from our friends at False Peak Records

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