There's a popular adage in jazz that the notes that aren't played are just as important as the ones that are. On 'Same As You', the seventh album from experimental London quintet Polar Bear, there are an awful lot of notes not being played.
As a result, the music can sometimes be difficult to really grip onto. Its dedication to sparseness and letting each instrument shine is admirable, and it's a welcome antidote to the kitchen sink production techniques that plague much of modern music, but despite its undoubted intricacy, it often feels like there should be more going on.
The saxophone solos are bold and inventive, the percussion is complex and exciting, but there's something sadly lacking from 'Same As You' to make it truly next level.
With Polar Bear being fully paid-up jazzers, there's more of an understanding and utilisation of dynamics, which add to the pervading mood, yet the overall feeling is one of ennui.
Words: Joe Rivers
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