Cykada are all about the collective experience of music. The group’s bassist James Benzies once said this was a key part of the creative process: “Get together with people you know you can work with, people you love sharing a space with and you take your time, you make sure you’re enjoying your music and as that comes, everything else comes”.
Made up of members of Ezra Collective, Myriad Forest and Maisha, Cykada definitely seem to epitomise the fluid, collective approach that’s spawning so much great jazz right now.
This debut LP is an explosive introduction to the group’s music, with its infectious, relentless energy levels, recorded at East London’s Total Refreshment Centre – one of the focal points of the city’s young jazz scene.
‘Creation’ opens the album momentously, as slow, hypnotic drums create a pulsing layer over which other instruments can experiment. The raw ringing tones vibrating from Javi Perez’s electric guitar flow brilliantly with the high tones reeling from Axel Kaner-Lidstrom and James Mollison on trumpet and sax.
Stand out tracks ‘Dimension Stepper’ and ‘Ophelia’s Message’ are sensationally put together feats of cosmic exploration, spinning off from overwhelmingly intense lead guitar and keyboard.
Tailing to the closing stages of record, ‘Realise’ sees wailing brass echo in background while rapid drum patterns dart back and forth with Perez’s guitar, the track eventually erupting to a burst of instrumentation.
Outro ‘Third Eye Thunder’ continues the rolling ethereal journey through Cykada’s sound, as the effects on guitar and bass ebb and flow between each other.
The album oozes scintillating passion and liveliness, with each instrument working harmoniously the others. Gritty, cutting guitar strikes into the foreground throughout the record, setting the band apart from their other projects.
Cykada uniquely marry the experimentation and soulful elements of jazz with the rawness of heavy rock. It’s an infectious and thrilling ride.
Words: Kofi Yeboah
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