Big Space: In Relation To

Canadian guitar, bass and drums trio plays complex structures combining rock and ambient while maintaining a loose, improvised feel


Formed in 2013, Canadian trio Big Space release their second album, a modern jazz record mixing gritty rock textures and ambient sounds. Their first recording, a live album, came in 2016, and In Relation To is taken from recording sessions made between lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.

The tracks are primarily led by guitarist Grant King, whose intricate, innovative playing offers complex riffs and interesting chords, blending the roles of rhythm and lead. The first track, Almost Everything, is a very rock-orientated piece with a fuzzy, woolly guitar riff that drops away for moments of calm before building toward aggressive improvisation, and then returning to the angular unison playing that opened followed by a short drum solo and a final chorus to close.

Alongside King bassist Ian Murphy brings a range of styles to the album. For example, Relevator sees bass come to the fore, leading with an upbeat riff over King’s guitar chords. As the track continues complex time signatures underpin fast interplay between the musicians as the piece ebbs and flows in intensity. After Words on the other hand only features bass in the latter half, droning beneath a chaotic soundscape. Ashley Chalmers’ drumming is dry and crisp sounding, offering spare grooves on tracks like I Was Looking For You There, heavier rock beats on Triptrap and jazz syncopation on Ships.

In Relation To is a brilliantly original album, with a free, improvised feel, but also with sections of intense complexity. Definitely suited to those interested in modern jazz, it will also be of particular interest to guitarists, and is well worth checking out.

Almost Everything; Triptrap; See Through; After Words; I Was Looking For You There; Monochromatic; Relevator; Ships; Coupla Nights (48.39)
Grant King (elg); Ian Murphy (b); Ashley Chalmers (d). Canada, 2020-21.