Season 2 - Wildflower (Album Review)
14 February 2020
Album Rating 4.5 / 5
Live Potential 5 / 5
Solo Performances 5 / 5
Favourite Songs Where the Wild Things Dance, Distant Thunder, Mirage, Light in the Sorrow
Wildflower have returned with their second album after their 2017 self-titled debut, as they continue to take us down a meditative and spiritual journey with the London trio capturing exquisitely a free-jazz spirit with every note that flows from their instruments in Season 2.
Taking a slightly freer approach to the writing process, simple but effective melodies and bass motifs are explored to to create pieces with dynamic extremes as the band sound relaxed and at ease with each song. Recorded over a two day session at Fishmarket Studios in London, the trio give space to explore intricate, improvised interplay and dialogue fully whilst at the same time building to fiery powerful climaxes and emotional peaks.
'Under the Night Sky' starts the album with drummer Tom Skinner utilising a cowbell to give a bouncing feeling for Idris Rahman to offer a spiralling saxophone motif to bop to as bassist Leon Brichard sits in tightly with the groove. He continues this firm bassline in 'Fire' as Skinner's ride cymbal projects an energy that allows Rahman to add soft and harsher textures in his sax soloing; the pace of 'Rush' allows for more fierce soloing as the saxophone blows swirl into another stratosphere. This structure mostly repeats throughout the album but never feels repetitive due to the creativity of their musicianship.
'Distant Thunder' has a similar vibe that comes from Leeds quartet Vipertime's music as the bass prods along in a tamed growl before Rahman enters gently before eloquently moving to louder dynamics; this is where Skinner's drums are the most free to help go from calming states to the escalation of saxophone cries. The drums and bass lock in for a phat groove in 'Mirage' as the flute and clarinet flutters and whispers with the rhythm, and the use of these additional woodwind instruments provide a Middle-Eastern vibe in 'Light in the Sorrow' as the trio strut throughout before they embark onto the last song 'Where the Wild Things Dance'. The bass controls the groove at the start as Skinner and Rahman provide the improvisational elements as the ride cymbal allows the various woodwind instruments to sync into repeated crescendoes of tingling riffs as they magnificently drop off each time to allow a buildup to start again.
The group's inspiration can be heard quite clearly from spiritual jazz pioneers such as John and Alice Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Yusef Lateef and Sun Ra. Compositionally, their influences range from Gnawa music to modal jazz to Bengali folk music but the scope is wider still as the spontaneous communication and interplay between the three musicians allows the tunes to breathe and develop into new unexplored forms rather than having a tight rigid structure, meaning fresh interpretations make each performance a unique experience.
Drummer Tom Skinner grooves throughout with an exceptional amount of precision in his playing despite it's loose, ad-lib style in certain songs whilst bassist Leon Brichard exudes a cool and delicious pulse to each song as he drives the music constantly. Idris Rahman does not disappoint in his role as chief melody man as the riffs, harmonies and down right ferocious playing of his various woodwind instruments allows the rhythm of the group to feel like they've been doing this for the past 50 years. There are so many moments that touch on the heavy spiritual vibes whilst also taking in dark alternative grooves and delicate folk-like tunes. This conveys the deep sense of emotion that resonates through the changing musical conservations, as Wildflower respond to each other to make an instantly accessible spiritual sound.
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Wildflower are: Idris Rahman (Sax, Flutes and Clarinet), Leon Brichard (Electric and Double Bass), and Tom Skinner (Drums).