This album combines late night jazz with electronica; the overall mood is like being out on a foggy night when ships are lost at sea; a stranger is shuffling towards you out of the fog, probably with a treasure map in his hand. It’s all a bit mysterious.
That’s not surprising: the concept is obscure remote islands and atolls, and Monocled Man (aka multi-instrumentalist Rory Simmons) describes various people and places via layers of somewhat haunting electronica, along with conventional jazz instrumentation and vocals.
Opener Tromelin depicts the island of a shipwreck in the c18th: the crew lived on the sandbank for 15 years until the survivors, seven women and an eight-month-old child, were rescued. Eerie trumpet captures the mood.
There’s more plaintive trumpet in Marie Betsy, named for Marie Betsy Rasmussen, the first women to live in Antarctica. She was the wife of a whaler who lived on Deception Island, and the next track is named for that lonely outpost, a fat synth in the intro perhaps suggestive of whales. Ed Begley sings as the track goes a bit improvised (and rather unnecessarily swears).
Fiction Afloat features two singers and along with Scott Moorman Afloat tells the tale of the unfortunate Mr Moorman, a teenager who died in the Pacific Ocean in the 1970s. His whaler, with a crew of five, went missing off Hawaii and was found several years later, 2,000 miles away and with only Mr M’s jawbone left of the crew.
In between these two is Queen Tirza: she was a captive of a despotic maniac whom she murdered while they were marooned.
Well, you get the picture. It’s late night atmospheric music that will appeal to jazz fans as well as those who like dark electronica. Many of the tracks feature looped taped sounds but odd songs —Mount Cerberus is one — are more standard jazz (but no sign of three-headed dogs). Special mention to Jon Scott’s drumming, which is outstanding.
Out on Whirlwind Recordings.