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Jazz Times
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Irish Examiner
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Scottish Daily Express
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Jazzwise
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British Jazz Blog
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Yorkshire Evening Post
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Indie London
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Scotland Sunday Herald
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Fake DIY
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AAA Music
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The Times
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The Telegraph
4 Stars
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Blues & Soul
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Time Out
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Vanguard Online
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Shout4Music
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Fwd Music
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The Sunday Times
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17 Seconds
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The Guardian
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UNCUT Magazine
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Culture Captial
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Alt Sounds
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All Gigs
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Subba Cultcha review Neil Cowley Trio - 'The Face Of Mount Molehill'


31 January 2012
Subba Cultcha

Even though Neil Cowley might be one of the most respected jazz pianists of his generation I would honestly struggle to define his latest long-player as a 'jazz' record. The sound is crisp and expertly layered with an emotional heft which nay-sayers would never readily associate with the genre, the song structures are decidedly conventional and most of the 12 tracks clock in at around 4 minutes. There are moments where Cowley's more traditional leanings are allowed space to shine through (the schizophrenic and yet oddly predictable 'Skies Are Rare' for example) but more often than not 'The Face Of Mount Molehill' comes across more as a Tortoise record than anything else, a collision between the worlds of jazz and post-rock which takes the complexity of the former and the melodrama of the former.

Of course to bemoan Cowley's refusal to adhere to stereotype is not something any critic worth his salt should be doing, purists might disagree but personally I applaud Cowley's gumption. Fans of the similarly genre unconscious young jazz prodigy Seb Rochford will find a familiar attitude here which wavers comfortably between sparse ambient minimalism (the gorgeous 'lounge' atmospherics of 'Slims') and aggressive fusion pieces ('La Porte'). Cowley is at his most approachable and likeable though when he's fully engaging the heart strings. 'Meyer' for example is the gorgeous soundtrack to a Wes Anderson film yet to be written and Hope Machine spends 5 minutes wrapping it's tender layers around a fragile, barely tangible arrangement before it collapses desperately in the final minute in a whirlwind of tumbling rhythms and atonal chords.

Not only does Cowley possess one of the tightest trios working in modern jazz but for this 4th album (under the 'trio' guise) he is joined by his very own 'Mount Molehill' string quartet who infuse the record with a level of beauty and drama which further distances it from the pack. But then even working alone Neil Cowley is one of the genres most interesting and emotionally attuned voices, his fingers speaking louder in these scant 45 minutes than a thousand voices. Even if the word 'jazz' makes you throw up a little in your mouth I implore you to give this complex, tender and oddly approachable record your time, it might just surprise you!

View FULL review HERE





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