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Humble Grumble: Guzzle It Up

The fourth full length release from Belgian avante-jazz ensemble Humble Grumble, Guzzle It Up, reveals a complex mix of progressive jazz which for the main bounces along merrily, while being far from easy going. This is a band with craft and guile, capable of honing tracks into short(ish) musical journeys which are varied and involving. However beware, for Guzzle It Up also contains that dangerous European mannerism, quirk. Whether it be the grating falsetto vocals, child crying samples, or intentionally smutty lyrics ("What did I smell this morning when I lift up my blanket? Did I really go down on her! Between my teeth pieces of fur. Skunky love, smelly, funky, fishy, donkey piss like" anyone?), just a smidge too often things descend into off beat for the sake it, unintentionally intentional bad humour and of course, quirk. If you can turn a blind eye to these nerve gnawing tendencies, then what is left is in places quite remarkable, "The Dancing Dinosaur" firing a slick guitar solo against wonderful twin female vocals and a completely locked down beat of funk (let's not talk about the sudden unneeded "hoe-down" that appears half way through this otherwise excellent song), while opening burst "Kurt's Casino" burrows deep into the mind through vibrant sax-clarinet meanders, and oddly effective madman vocals from Gabor Humble.

However the real joy of Guzzle It Up comes from the expert arrangements and the manner in which they allow all of the different instruments and the moods and shapes they produce to bounce, spark and crash off each other. When you consider that this album contains guitar, bass, keys, drums, saxophone, clarinet, vibraphone and assorted percussion, combining all those elements becomes no easy feat, but Humble Grumble do achieve it masterfully. The end product is an album that amazes and astounds on a regular basis, while also dashing hopes for greatness through the need to push the boundaries into areas less interesting to revisit, something which feels like a real missed opportunity.

Great though it is at times, I can't see myself going back to Guzzle It Up on a regular basis, as there are just too many spots that simply distract and annoy. Live I bet this kooky bunch are immense and I'd pay top dollar to find out, however on CD it is an equally rewarding and frustrating experience.

Track Listing
01. Kurt's Casino
02. The Little Man
03. Accidentally in San Sebastian
04. The Campfire Strikes Back
05. The Dancing Dinosaur
06. Skunks
07. Pate a Tartiner

Added: August 16th 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Humble Grumble Online
Hits: 1898
Language: english

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