If there is a certain genre of music you love, you have jazz to thank for it. Whether it be metal, rock or even pop, jazz has been the mother figure to modern music and has remained as the most respected ever since, considering it being such a complex and significant case for musicians to study. That’s where the dynamic Australian duo Ben Marston & Hugh Barrett come in. With these two mastering the genre of jazz and coalescing it with ambient music, here we have a serene piece entitled “Unfound Places”, where we discover a whole new take of two virtuoso-levelled genres.
Both Marston & Barrett showcase a plethora of ingenuity and diversity within not just their own instruments, but also a decent amount of experimentation between tracks. While “The Crisp of Dawn” and “Rock the Boat” and have some very atmospheric texture to their sound, “The Quiet Hero” carries an unsettling aura to its tone which could be sufficient to take part in a mysterious indie horror flick. “Mind Reader” however, takes over as a freeform composition that’s much more sinister and tentative and with a very claustrophobic approach to the production echoing throughout its course.
But, as you get halfway through “Unfound Places”, you’ll find that the work between the two only gets more peculiar, with “Movement 1:2” and “The Northward March“, both of these songs exhibit a unique and daring style that tampers with Marston & Barrett’s proficiency, creating a more fluid and unparalleled path for them to follow as the tracks progress. And finally, with “Sleepyhead” and “Winds of Range” being the closers, there’s less of an abnormal sensation to their spirits and more of a soundtrack-like performance for possibly a winter playlist.
It’s not necessarily a free jazz record, as that sub-genre requires constant change in tempos and progression, as experimental as that genre is. However, Marston & Barrett channel a bit of a Sigur Rós in its nature, but not so much in a post-rock form, but more towards the ambient side. And perhaps, there is a tinge of Mike Patton in the character and instrumentals of “Unfound Places” due to its absurd and disconcerting vibe that plagues from start to finish. But another thing that can be vaguely distinguished is Marston’s appreciation for Miles Davis, which isn’t entirely noticeable, but it’s definitely transparent if you listen very carefully.
While the combination of ambience and jazz can seem like an odd combination for foreign listeners, Marston & Barrett make “Unfound Places” a lot more than just another record. You can tell they had no plans to make this album approachable in any way shape or form, as the electronics and brass instruments involved are set in a broader and tense atmosphere that the experimental-heads can really sit easy with.
Though it seems unlikely to some, Marston & Barrett kind of inherit a bit of Aphex Twin in the experimental side of this record; the idea of taking something and turning it into something a little more bizarre, but not draining all of the sanity out of the embodiment of the product. One should not assume that this will be an easy record to just sit back and relax to.
“Unfound Places” comes as an artistic piece first and foremost. For Marston & Barrett, they’re all about expressing their imagination and initiative instead of making something that can allow people to let loose a bit in the mood. This is an opus for those that appreciate the art, and those that don’t will eventually want to dive further into “Unfound Places” when their curiosity gets the best of them.
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