by Thomas S. USER (29 Reviews)
February 14th, 2019 | 4 replies

Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: virtuosity rubs shoulders with accessibility

Modern jazz is a cutthroat business. Relegated to bespoke bars and dingy basement clubs frequented by only the most revenant of music zealots, jazz demands absolute perfection of its disciples, but, as of recent times, offers little in the way of mainstream notoriety. Jazz fusion aims to ameliorate this problem of esotericism by borrowing from other, more accessible genres; Hiatus Kaiyote, Kamasi Washington and Thundercat have all made their name by incorporating palatable elements of funk, R’n’B and hip-hop into an overarching jazz aesthetic. Mildlife, an enigmatic four-piece from Melbourne, Australia, take this fusion approach to the nth degree. Their debut offering, Phase, is a veritable smorgasbord of subgenres—a lurid, kaleidoscopic affair where virtuosity constantly rubs shoulders with accessibility.

‘The Magnificent Moon’, the monolithic nine-minute opener, is a bold statement of intent. Labyrinthian in structure and sci-fi in aesthetic, it feels like the Stranger Things theme put to the dancefloor—a stringent disco groove aswirl with analogue arpeggiators and synths. Fellow bookend ‘The Gloves Don’t Bite’ mimics the mechanical repetition of French house, straying from a terse beat only to indulge the occasional George Benson flourish, while the guitar work in ‘Zwango Zop’ recalls Frank Zappa at his most angular. The avuncular vocals can, at times, feel perfunctory—the phlegmatic vocoder in ‘I’m Bleu’ sounds kitsch at best—but never detract from the songs themselves. They do, however, highlight a creative tension that lies at the heart of Phase: the need to balance jazz complexity with pop simplicity. Towards the end of the eponymous track, ‘Phase’, the tempo slows and the instruments deliquesce; it’s a brief moment, insignificantly really, but beautiful nonetheless—one that makes you wonder what heights Mildlife can reach at their untethered, virtuosic best.

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user ratings (13)

Comments:Add a Comment 
February 14th 2019


Album Rating: 3.5

short review, great album

disclaimer: i don't know much about jazz

Staff Reviewer
February 14th 2019


Great review dude. Album is alright, although I don't remember when did I rate it.

February 14th 2019


Album Rating: 3.5

cheers dude! it’s a fun album, i’m pumped to see what they do next

April 8th 2019


Album Rating: 3.5

Dunno, I liked everything about this album. It is very beautiful and relaxing.

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