Binker And Moses – Feeding The Machine

Two artists playing for their lives...

In 2015 Moses Boyd and Binker Golding emerged on the music landscape with a seminal album called ‘Dem Ones’ on Gearbox Records. It was an album that had as much to do with jazz’s past as it did with hip-hop and grime. It was a melting pot of ideas and showcased what prodigious talents Binker and Moses were. They followed this up with the more prog-influenced double album ‘Journey To The Mountain Of Forever’ in 2017. They then released two live albums ‘Alive In The East?’ and ‘Escape The Flames’ in 2018 and 2020, respectively. Now they have returned with their boldest and bravest album to date, the transcendental ‘Feeding The Machine’

Listening to ‘Feeding The Machine’ I’m reminded of the paintings of Mark Rothko. In his later work Rothko removed objects from his work, leaving only colour. The same can be said of ‘Feeding the Machine.’ Binker and Moses have pretty much done away with the lyricalness of their early work. Listening back to their 2015 debut album ‘Dem Ones’ it’s remarkable how much they have stripped away. That album was a joy because it was full of massive melodies, tangible drumming and a sense of fun that was hard to ignore. The music exploded out of the speakers and put a bounce in your step and a smile on your face. There is very little bounce going on here, but the smile remains.

‘Active-Multiple-Fetish-Overlord’ is the one track that probably resembles their earlier work the most. The duo seems to be playing with each other rather than against. Their phrases go hand in hand, and, in a conventional sense, it makes the most sense. Much like with Rothko the sounds seems to hang suspended in the air. Swelling and drawing all the light out of the room. It’s remarkable stuff. 

‘Accelerometer Overdose’ starts off like the previous two songs, with fugs of sound emanating from the speakers. Then, all of a sudden, Moses Boyd delivers one of the finest drumbeats of his career. The stuttering percussion and saxophone comes to a grinding halt, and for a few moments the duo turn into one of the finest hip-hop backing bands. Then, as soon as this newfound order starts, it all collapses on itself. It’s wonderful as it reminds us that Binker and Moses are very capable of playing organised jazz. It also offers a brief respite to the way the drums and saxophones ricochet off each other.

‘Feeding The Machine’ revels in its abstraction. It basks in how it delivers the swaths of sound. From the opening blasts to the last faded out moments the album makes us question firstly what is going one, secondly what its role is (to entertain, make us think or both) and lastly it makes us feel slightly sorry for the next piece of music we listen to, as this is such a hard act to follow.

Part of this new sound is down to the inclusion of Max Luthert on tape loops and electronics. Luthert’s contributions add an extra layer of sound that hasn’t been heard on previous Binker and Moses releases. These soundscapes sound contemporary, but also have a slightly retro feel to them. The combination of free jazz and electronics feels like a continuation of Miles Davis’ ‘On The Corner’ album. Much like that project, the electronic motifs add punctuation to the dense phrases that Binker and Moses have created. It gives the duo a firm, if not glitchy, foundation while they laydown some free jazz phrases.

What really comes across is how much fun Binker and Moses are having: the pair clearly love playing this free. This might be the album they’ve always wanted to make but have been afraid where it may lead. The only problem after listening to ‘Feeding The Machine’ is wondering where the pair go next. If they reel in this newfound freeness some fans might feel it a step back. If they push their compositions even further forward, they might alienate some of their core group. At the end of the day, however, it's all immaterial. That isn’t a worry we fans need- we just need to concentrate on what is at hand, and that is an incredibly brave album made by two of the finest musicians working in music today.

Not only is this their biggest album to date, it’s also their best. It builds on their remarkable career, as a duo and solo artists, to date and makes us question what jazz should be doing in 2022. The answer is a resounding “THIS!” It’s brave, accomplished, daring and wonderfully catchy in ways you don’t expect. Shove the tube back in as I need some more.

9/10

Words: Nick Roseblade

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