Album Review: Barnacles – And So We Begin

Barnacles

And so we begin

(Cheeba Cheeba Records CCR003)

Brass bands are an enduring part of the British musical tradition, and it’s fascinating to see how that tradition has morphed into the current popularity for funky updates on the wind and rhythm sound, from the consciously retro-named Hackney Colliery Brass Band on outwards. Barnacles bring their own unique take on this sound: leader Leroy Horns brings an awareness of the boundary pushing sonorities of Charlie Mingus and Moondog and mixes it with his grounding in roots reggae and what he himself describes as “a modern heavy and dirty sentiment soaked up at squat parties and sound systems”, and this vibe-laden, high-energy debut illustrates exactly what he means. Manatee lays lush, bluesy Bernard Hermann chords onto drummer Pete Hill’s pulsating groove as Greg Sinclair lays down the low end, before the pair break into an exhilarating drums/baritone duet. Hot Night has an uptempo bashment feel under the widescreen chords and minor key tenor solos that rises to an ecstatic climax: Happy Go Round adds a tricky odd-number meter to the mix without sacrificing danceability. Berties Bounce has a Volks 4am D&B groove, while Ethio’s Adventure mixes in East African scales for a Mulatu Astatke effect. Hill keeps the grooves locked throughout, the horns are attractively raw and unfiltered, and the whole package crackles with excitement. There are echoes of acts like Sons Of Kemet, but Barnacles are tied in closer to recognisable melodic tradition and should tear it up on the festival circuit next summer.

Eddie Myer

Leroy Horns, tenor sax; Laura Impallomeni, trombone; Richard Halligan, tenor sax; Greg Sinclair, baritone sax; Peter Adam Hill, drums.

Available via Bandcamp