[Reviewed by stark]
Yet another album somehow related to the ‘dark jazz’ subgenre. You may read below (or above) about Atrium Carceri, Cities Last Broadcast and God Body Disconnect’s collaboration, which is definitely “dark”. The debut album of The Thing With Five Eyes isn’t as easy to encapsulate with just a word.
The important reason why you will probably find it under the ‘dark jazz’ label in the store is the leading brain’s history in the project. The Thing With Five Eyes is the newest creation of Jason Kohnen, known for his “mountain” collectives, The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble and The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation. If anybody is interested, he was a member of the forgotten, underappreciated gothic/doom band Celestial Season; their “Solar Lovers” album was an important part of my teenage days.
With this project Jason keeps the Kilimanjaro spirit, but only to a certain degree; you’ll notice the similarities in several melodies and solutions. It is through atmosphere that the album takes you from a big metropolis with men in black gloves and beautiful ladies smoking cigarettes to somewhere far away, where instead of drinking Martinis, you explore the mystical secrets of The Middle East. This aspect is present in the titles of the tracks and the concept of the album.
The voice of Algerian/French singer Leila Bounous -who reminds me a little of Ofra Haza, which is also mentioned in the press release- only adds to this. Speaking of that, when I read the label’s note about the album, I expected something similar to Alice Coltrane solo or with Pharaoh Sanders, but it’s only one of many influences. I can say one thing, though: the title of the album is perfectly accurate.
Oh yes, it sparkles with ideas. Some fragments may be pure ambient, while the others reference film music or the exoticism of the orient. There’s a dark jazz aura above all, just listen to the first half of “Nakba”, or “Taurus” where this urban feeling returns but is counterpointed by Leila’s singing; there’s a charming trumpet floating over most of the compositions…
I don’t remember the last time I felt such excitement while listening to the new music. You don’t feel it’s too cerebral, that it is made only to show Jason’s musical erudition. There are lots of thrilling melodies and moments of sheer beauty here, I fell in love with this one.