Same As You
It’s a swift follow-up to last year’s wonderful In Each And Every One, but where that had some hard corners, more noise – more dissonance – Same As You is (as the title hints) more instantly inviting, softer in a sense, gentler. The two-sax magical weave is there instantly on We Feel The Echoes, another snake-like dance.
And the groove starts to hit on The First Steps, a bit of shronk-attack from the saxes too, those traces of Albert Ayler once again.
But again it’s impossible to simply call Polar Bear jazz – what they’re doing isn’t so much jazz it’s more about what they are doing to jazz, adding electronic shimmers and textures, and creating space by shadowing an outline of a tune ( Of Hi Lands), embracing jazz’s tenets as the one truly world music by adding hints of Celtic melodies and African and Arabic rhythms. And then on Don’t Let The Feeling Go we have the twisted gospel feel of Sons of Kemet (their saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings is on board here to help guide that feeling) as drummer Seb Roachford takes turns with guest vocalist Hannah Darling on the chorus-as-mantra.
It’s everything wonderful about Polar Bear as an entity in one tune – that John Lurie like sift through a jazz-framed melody, the waft of it all to trail in the wake. Less about improvisation than many might assume, this time around it’s a set of fairly simple tune sketches, but it’s the colours these artful, supple players provide.
And the closer, Unrelenting Unconditional, rolls out for nearly 20 minutes, the perfect wind-down to an album of subtly shaped jazz-like noises.
Polar Bear is a class act and Same As You is a great place to start if you’ve been previously scared off or have never taken the plunge. It’s also – in the logical sense – just the continuation, and certainly no disappointment at all to fans that have followed them across a half-dozen magnificent recordings. In two or three song-moments here (particularly We Feel The Echoes and Don’t Let The Feeling Go) we really do get to hear all that is good about this band, and feel like we’re hearing, by extension, all that is good with music.