"Fascinating and absorbing...it is a great album." London Jazz News
"An odd hybrid of spiritual jazz, space rock, and experimental electronics." Expose
"4/5* A weird and wonderful album." The Jazz Mann
"4/5* The BBC Radiophonic Workshop meets Tonto's Expanding Head Band..." All About Jazz
"It is as if we’re in a video game that we can only access subconsciously." MusicOMH
"A synthesis of experimental electro-acoustic, jazz and a touch of neoclassicism, played with startling mastery in which playfulness resounds." Opduvel (BZ)
"Abstract electronica meets radical jazz." PROG
"It’s a wonderfully patient and intoxicating piece of work, with nary a note wasted." Underscore Music Magazine
"This is compelling, yet abstract, jazz that tells a story." Fatea
"Absorbing and unsettling..." A Jazz Noise
"An ethereal experience that wanders through the intricacies of avant-garde jazz." Threshold Magazine (PT)
"A long, rewarding, listen... added to my albums of the year list." Marlbank
"12/15 - An all-round success for fans of jazzy electronics, retro jazz rock and freer sound exploration." Baby Blaue (DE)
Following the acclaimed Raspberry Tongue (Babel, 2009) and Welcome To Bat Country (Basho, 2012), The Golden Age Of Steam led by the multi-award winning saxophonist and composer James Allsopp return with a third album, Tomato Brain, to be released via label limitedNOISE on Friday 4th Dec 2020 on CD and digital formats inc. global digital retail & streaming services.
Tomato Brain represents a radical shift in direction for the ensemble. Recorded live in a single take, it draws upon the pedigree of this super-group of musicians that includes ECM recording artist and Mercury prize nominee Kit Downes on Keyboards, Melt Yourself Down bassist Ruth Goller, Leverton Fox producer Alex Bonney on electronics and award winning drum prodigy Tim Giles. Allsopp (Sly & The Family Drone, Snack Family) lays down but the barest outline of a composition; the music assumes it’s own shape, ambience, colour and direction in real time.
The listener is transported to some ghostly soundlab; an abandoned Radiophonic workshop, perhaps, or 70s free arts space. Electronic signals emanate from nowhere, similar to the Morse code bleeps that open Herbie Hancock’s 1973 Sextant album. Voices, ghostlike, indistinct and reverberant, rear up from the floor below, like the chatter of long-dead engineers. Percussion, an anxious, tom-tom strikes up like a quickened heartbeat, before Allsopp’s sax hoves into the chamber, and hangs gravely and resonantly in the rafters, peering down across the lab below, its quiet noisescape of blips and spurts, fragmentary noises, clanks and drones. Paradoxical; ominous shards of pure, playful pleasure.
Tomato Brain is the sort of album in which the ear-magination of the listener is a creative component; the trigger for any number of thoughts, associations, images and narratives. The artwork by Callum Buckland (Sly & The Family Drone) offers a further, visual dimension; a cubo-futurist, Kandinsky-esque, disciplined riot of colour and form. Tomato Brain is an album you need in your home and in your brain. The pips, the juice, the lot.
released December 4, 2020
James Allsopp - Tenor saxophone, voice
Alex Bonney - Electronics, voice
Kit Downes - Keyboards, voice
Tim Giles - Drums, electronics, voice
Ruth Goller - Bass, voice
Loftopus pt.1-6 composed by James Allsopp.
Tomato Brain composed by Ivor Cutler.
Mixed and mastered by Alex Bonney
Artwork by Callum Buckland