Two years after A Humdrum Star, Manchester-based jazz collective GoGo Penguin (Chris Illingworth, Nick Blacka, Rob Turner) announced the release of a new self-titled album which will be out on May 1st via Blue Note. We already shared “Atomised” and “Kora”; “F Maj Pixie” is a new excerpt.
“Because I play the double bass, I think I always wanted to have jazz in our music,” Blacka says.“But as we’ve moved through the albums, it’s been a very gradual thing for me where I’ve now finally come to accept that we really just aren’t a jazz band. This new album is the one where I thought, ‘Fuck it, there’s no point even worrying anymore!’ That has been really liberating and freeing for all of us”.
According to the press release, A big part of GoGo Penguin’s impact derives from the way they employ computer technology to compose with, then find ways to record (and perform) the results on acoustic instruments, with help from a surprisingly limited arsenal of effects pedals and delays. Rob confesses, “I spend way more time on my laptop than I do on my drums. The ratio is probably about 90% to 10%.”
Turner obsessively works with production software favoured by many electronic producers, and “F Maj Pixie” (pronounced F Major Pixie) is partially based on a theme composed in Ableton. Bassist Nick Blacka explains:
“The first idea came from an Ableton project that was heavily electronica inspired. We continued to develop this idea using software initially. We were interested in how we could manipulate the sounds in the software and then afterwards recreate it acoustically. We’ve used this approach before but not in this particular way. This was how the ending came about where we slowed it down and manipulated the pitch in Ableton and then we learnt how to play it on our instruments. The second, we felt had more of a rockier sound to it. That particular riff we thought sounded slightly reminiscent of The Pixies. We’d been working on the two ideas separately for a few weeks before we decided to piece them together and we thought it worked. A lot of the time when we’re working on new tracks we use working titles for them. This is one of the few times we decided to stick with that title.”