The well travelled and long-enduring Pyramids, led by sax man Idris Ackamoor, ready a new record of fantasy-filtered allegory. An Angel Fell is a jazz record in protest of our environmental complacency. Recorded in a week, it's another intense marvel from a group who still managed to release one of our favourite records of its year in We Be All Africans.
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For better or for worse (actually just for worse), jazz is a genre that many people don’t get on with too well, and other than the occasional crossover (*cough* Kamasi Washington *cough*), people don’t even listen to it. Even in our office of many musical tastes, it’s heard much less than it ought to be. So when an album comes out that manages to do jazz in a way that it could be thrown on in almost any situation, that deserves celebrating.
What I’m obviously getting at is An Angel Fell is just that. It’s very good and it’s very accessible. It brings together jazz with psychedelic and what is referred to as “world music” (which is to say, Giles Peterson likes it). It’s become something of a go to if we need something to throw on between random press releases. In the years since they reformed Idris Ackamoor and the Pyramids have clearly lost none of what made their run of releases in the 70s so compelling.
Through all the variety, what unites these tracks is an unyielding commitment to positivity. Everything is delivered with energy and enthusiasm, and so much warmth that (to use a tired phrase) it can’t fail to put a smile on your face. This comes across best on the album’s 7th track, ‘Warrior Dance’. This high-energy rager gallops would be a fun listen anyway but the little detail of the band’s exaggerated diction at the end of each sung line is funny in a way that doesn’t feel forced. And that's true of the rest of the album. Don't bother debating whether or not this take on jazz is for you, Idris Ackamoor and the Pyramids have already won.
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