The Golden Age Of Steam: Tomato Brain


Here’s a set in which some names from the contemporary jazz scene (or whatever husk remains of it in these pandemic days) make some music that falls well outside of that category, but well within the dark ambient category, which I propose should exist if it doesn’t already.

Any edge it might possess is likely to be smoothed down the moment some TV drama makers fall upon it to rifle some incidental music, which in the days of normality, were they with us, would be likely to happen quickly as far as I can hear.

Despite the track divisions the music is seamless from beginning to end, and by the time Loftopus pt. 4 rolls around the bombast is on the up, with Allsopp’s tenor sax tone having that keening edge pioneered in some respects by Jan Garbarek, although in this instance the leaden pulse keeps everything well within the rather facile area of tension building so beloved of those makers referred to above.

Given the nature of the rest of the set, the presence of the Ivor Cutler original that gives the set its title sounds a little incongruous. The impish inscrutability of that one-off’s work is subject to a treatment which for me misses the point, and not merely because, as the late and lamented John Peel recognised in a roundabout way, Cutler’s work needs no augmenting.

Loftopus pt.1; Loftopus pt.2; Loftopus pt.3; Loftopus pt.4; Loftopus pt. pt.5; Loftopus pt.6; Tomato Brain (40.03)
James Allsopp (ts, v); Alex Bonney (elec, v); Kit Downes (kyb, v); Ruth Goller (b, v); Tim Giles (d, elec, v). UK, no date.
Limited Noise LTDNO13