44th Move - 44th Move (EP Review)
24 April 2020
EP Rating 4.5 / 5
Live Potential 4 / 5
Solo Performances 4.5 / 5
Diversity in Songs 3.5 / 5
Favourite Songs Broken, Hope
44th Move is the new project between two of the UK's jazz leaders, pianist and producer Alfa Mist and drummer Richard Spaven. It is a treat of dark, lounging jazz; they lay out deep grooves and offer individual flurries of licks and riffs to demonstrate the power of their duet.
Named after the 44th Move that occurred during the six match chess battle between the IBM super computer Deep Blue and the grandmaster Garry Kasparov in 1996/97, it was the moment when a human being (Kasparov) realised he was facing a superior intellect (Deep Blue). The surprise of the project was welcomed as both Mist and Spaven have their renowned laidback feel in their own style - Mist's is more melancholy and contemplative, whilst Spaven's acutely relaxed beats are coupled with unusual snare placements within his DnB and breakbeat patterns to add extra flair.
The merging of these two musicians is probably one of the most like-for-like collaborations to happen and the results are expectedly similar to both of their previous releases. Despite them both sticking to this style though, the EP exudes a sensational chilled-out vibe and big credit is due for how the keys and drums fill the space and play in a way where you don't think any additional instruments are needed.
The first single 'Broken' nods to the pairs broken beat influences, with the Rhodes' alluring melody that hypnotises the listener with Spaven's stroking of the hihats and trashy cymbals. The use of electronics here splits up the song well and gives new flavours for the pair to twinkle on their instruments. The whole EP is emotive but 'Broken' edges it as the most impassioned, as the intricacy of Spaven's drums never seems too much before they ease into an effective pulse in the extended outro to allow Mist to add new textures. The pulse continues in Dan Shake's remix of 'Broken' which offers up a melancholic house version of the tune.
Dan Gulino joins on the bass for some tunes though, as well as a superb cameo by Japanese trumpeter Takuya Kuroda on second single, 'Hope'. His elegancy provides a reserved but needed push in the second 'chorus' and outro especially, as Mist and Spaven increase the tension for the finale with Spaven managing to solo with his extremely off-kilt patterns that always fall in time. Mist offers vocals and raps here, another nice surprise from the project.
'Little Techno' is the EP taster that has a soft sway, as the lack of snare allows the delicacy of the piano to resonate. 'Fly' is a breakbeat tune that glows with Mist's typical brooding melody, whilst 'Two Nil' is brighter and reminiscent of Mark de Clive-Lowe's Heritage album, evoking a nostalgic feeling. Spaven's syncopated beats fuse with the distant keys that juxtaposes the electronic sparkles that flutter behind the melody.
Spaven commented on the project, stating: “creating the sound was just a coming together where we discovered that we shared a lot of the same influences. We got to writing straight away - before we really got to know each other. I found it easy with a ton of inspiration. Ideas kept coming and we were on the same page. In retrospect we want 44th to have an edge - it’s a ‘heart on your sleeve’ project where we can express all those hip hop and broken beat records.”
44th Move is a poignant debut showcasing the quality of established innovators Alfa Mist and Richard Spaven, and it will do no harm increasing their stature even more within the jazz scene.
Buy and stream 44th Move here:
Buy and stream the Dan Shake remix of 'Broken' here:
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Alfa Mist Facebook & Instagram