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Soft Ffog: Soft Ffog

Originating from a one-time gig at the Kongsberg Jazz festival in 2016, Soft Ffog is assembled by an extremely competent group of Norwegian jazz musicians who have just about played with all Jazz ensembles from their home country. Not gaining quite the steam they’d hoped for as a group, it took them a number of years to find the momentum and time to put out an album, which may I say was certainly worth the wait. On top of this, the record is being published by the up and coming ‘Is It Jazz? Records’ and is the first piece of music the company will be distributing; quite an honour to say the least. Combining the sounds from King Crimson with Terje Rypdal, Deep Purple with Pat Metheny, Soft Ffog have made a big impression on this record of their combined and artistically influenced talents.

The first track (and single of the album) acts as a knockout to the senses and a swift kick back to the past through its guitar tuning and fusion keyboards and for this it is aptly named after the kickboxing Street Fighter character ‘Chun Li’. Oh yes, did I forget to mention that all four tracks are named after classic Street Fighter characters? With ease this record brings you back to both the late 60’s and early 70’s soundscape of jazz fusion as well as the nostalgic 2D fighting games of the 90s. Segments of this sweeping track feel like the band celebrating the sounds of the past with their own flare, weaving between gentle interludes of synths and keyboards and then into sudden crunches of overdriven guitars that harken to the likes of Deep Purple. ‘Zangief’, much like the actual character, lets the musician grab onto their instruments and let their individual talents be heard as it is brimming with hard and tasteful riffs, swift and satisfying drum canoodling, electrifying keyboard playing and is peppered with sections of throbbing bass. ‘Ken’ on the other hand brings things down a notch, starting off with an atmospheric and spacey reverb of chords in tandem with saxophone mimicry on the synths. Personally, I feel as though a large portion of this track somewhat lacks identity, not standing out as much as its rivals: humorously representing the sometimes-lacking identity of the character it is named after, much like the track before it. It does however pick up again towards the end, but upon multiple listens sounds rather similar to some of the moments from ‘Chun Li’, I think this one could have used some more development perhaps. Then to top everything off is the energy-fuelled ‘Dhalsim’ where the riffs are at their heaviest and the chord progressions at their quirkiest, this one is very much akin to Gentle Giant’s early offerings. The gentle chimes of cymbals and rapid taps of snares make this track flow with a frantic grace, contrasted by the return of overdriven guitars to create a sinister sense at times, reminding me of Dhalsim’s unsettling appearance in the games. And on top of all this, how about that album art? It certainly takes my eyes back to Roger Dean’s intriguing worlds of mystery. I’d argue that this group is close to the edge of greatness, now to wait and see what will next sprawl from their talented minds in their future releases.

Track Listing
1) Chun Li
2) Zangief
3) Ken
4) Dhalsim

Added: April 24th 2022
Reviewer: Johnny Ponsford
Related Link: Band @ Bandcamp
Hits: 692
Language: english

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