Album Review: Ouroboros - Ouroboros
Written By: Chris Hynes
Ouroboros may need no formal introduction; if you have found yourself dancing over the past year or so, they are probably responsible for it. The St. John’s quintet oozes an energetic smorgasbord of far away rhythms that almost require a passport as much as they require dancing shoes. Greg Bruce (alto sax), Susan Evoy (alto sax), Chris Harnett (tenor sax), Nicole Hand (bari sax) and Andrew McCarthy (drums/percussion) simply, albeit masterfully, are creating party music. And that my friends, is a beautiful thing, no?
The eponymous offering, released in May 2015, takes its audience on a sonic journey. Beginning with some Eastern European folk, some West African beats and smothered in jazz and funk, its product yields an upbeat cacophony that sizzles and swoons. It’s almost as if, wishful thinking notwithstanding, the Cantina band from Star Wars were actually deadly. Try not moving to that!
All nine pieces on the album are either originally composed or arranged by band members; no small feat given the complexity of the project, so kudos for that! “Pass (h)Over” has a slick, slow, jazz influenced introduction, which immediately jolts straight into a fast klezmer dance beat. It made this review difficult to finish as clapping and foot stomping became inevitable! The middle section exhales into slower tempo and 2/2 feel, which then transitions back into the klezmer dance groove for which I am now dancing again. BRB.
My personal favourite is “Bay-O-Tuck”, which begins with a trance like percussion pattern featuring some of West Africa’s finest (agogo bells, shakers and congas!). An alto sax solo in a jazz style rips smoothly over the African percussive groove, just before the funky main theme comes in and keeps the party going. Vocal harmonies, a recurring theme on the album, take us home towards the end of the piece. We’re delivered to an instrumental reiteration of the main theme as it slows its run down to a strut, this time with more ornamentation and a different harmonic structure.
Wherever in the world these well-traveled music scene staples have been, we are sure glad they have all arrived back together in St. John’s. Ouroboros is a fascinating, upbeat modern day ‘dance-mix record’ with all the faraway spices needed to keep you coming back for more. It is ‘dancey times’ that will leave you klezmer-ized!
Listen to Ouroboros here: https://play.spotify.com/artist/76UT2Jbrf1Gv9TZ0AlKbpW