Vermilion Sands

posted: 2024-05-06 III BADBADNOTGOOD

released: 2014-05-06
on label: Innovative Leisure
genre: Jazz Fusion
more reviews: Exclaim! NME Pop Matters

Toronto-based jazz trio BadBadNotGood’s third album is their first on the Innovative Leisure label and also the first full-length to feature all their own compositions. The Canadians first made waves early in the 2010s while posting videos of them playing jazz covers of hip-hop tracks by the likes of Odd Future and MF Doom. They maintained this ethos into their first two records, BBNG and BBNG2, by covering the likes of A Tribe Called Quest and Kanye West as well as My Bloody Valentine and Feist. III captures the raw energy, togetherness, and musicianship of a live concert, at points drifting off at a tangent and then re-joining to climactic chord structures and beautiful jazz melodies. One thing that is very clear is that Matthew Tavares (keyboards, synths), Chester Hansen (bass), and Alexander Sowinski (drums) are all fantastic musicians and rightly sought-after, being cherry-picked by the likes of Frank Ocean to be his backing band.

The groove here is tight and so many intricate details unravel over the nine tracks, fluidly drifting in among each other with some wonderful solo jazz freak-outs, while each member takes his turn. The album kicks off with “Triangle,” perhaps the most traditionally jazz-sounding number on the album, flowing into “Can’t Leave the Night,” which is different but still creates a coherent opening to the album and is a precursor of how things will pan out, gelling genres such as hip-hop, jazz, and electronica effortlessly. “Can’t Leave the Night” has the feel of a mid-’90s dance groove from DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing… era before a sub-friendly climactic ending built up of arpeggiated synths and straight drum rhythms. Saxophonist and frequent collaborator Leland Whitty features on the track “Confessions,” which is a smoky jazz number a little bit reminiscent of the early Bonobo records. “Kaleidoscope” is possibly the best track on the record, especially the latter part for its bass freak-out and the way in which the group twists toward the blissful, beautiful jazz brass section and whistle-inducing melody line. “Since You Asked Kindly” could be the strangest inclusion here, as it’s almost a different style altogether. As a whole, this is a great inclusion to an already impressive catalog and it’s good to see a full-length of their own material.