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Eucalyptus - Kick It Till You Flip It (LP)


Local TO jazz-heads have been bandying Brodie West’s name about for some time now, but it’s time for the rest of the world to catch up. What better place to start than with his tropical-Ontarian psychedelic jazz combo Eucalyptus’ latest splendor in the grass Kick It Till You Flip It. To these ears, this is some of the finest insider/outsider jazz today, sounding like some balmy liminal space between electric Miles, Eric Dolphy, Ethiopiques, Kouté Jazz, and Joshua Abrams. Highest recommendation, essential Canadiana!

“Saxophonist and composer Brodie West's Eucalyptus assembles eight of Toronto’s finest experimental and jazz musicians into tightly connected unit, their ten years together has given rise to a peculiar and charismatic mixture whose jazz foundations are tempered by West's insatiable curiosity. Languid, poppish melodicism rides a polyrhythmic web of eclectic rhythms inspired by various global traditions. All-out groove and freeform spontaneity conspire in their very own pidgin language to produce unpredictable hybrid forms.

West was in the midst of a decade-long association with The Ex and Ethiopian saxophone legend Getatchew Mekuria when Eucalyptus was formed in 2009. He had also gained considerable momentum elsewhere as a member of jazz outsiders Drumheller, dense wayward rock group Deep Dark United, and in his duo with legendary Dutch drummer Han Bennink.

The octet has always acted as an outlet for West’s compositional ideas, and as such, exemplifes key features of his musical imagination. His default mode is boundless exploration with a strong aversion orthodoxies, be it stylistic or the much-touted division between the so-called "inside" and "outside" of jazz. Fluidity is the unifying theme across his diverse body of work and Eucalyptus epitomizes this tendency, gleefully welcoming a panoply of divergent sources — from straightforward lyricism to outright chaos — into a cohesive, strange, but accessible whole. That latter trait, by the way, is corroborated by the sizeable and dedicated following they've gathered in the 8 years of their annual residency at East-End Ethiopian resto-bar Hirut Café.

Kick It Till You Flip It serves as both a continuation and departure for the band. The leisurely unfolding tropical-Ontarian psychedelia of "Something Sparkly" begins, echoing the dreamy temperament of their previous record. However, on the title track the band launches headlong into driving, agitated pulsation. Its relentlessly surging interlocking figures posit a missing, mutant link between Louis Andriessen and 70's Miles. West's writing, as always, highlights the unique contributions of the entire band and Kick It Till You Flip It is no exception, featuring dexterous bass moves by Mike Smith (Muskox, Sandro Perri, MV & EE) alongside a blistering sax solo from West himself.

The three remaining cuts fow together in a seamless medley, comprising the LP's entire B-side. "Squiggly Line" sees woozy melodies teetering at the edge of a rhythmic precipice. Ryan Driver (Tin Angel Records, The Silt, Little Annie) has shifted from piano to clavinet for this recording and offering brittle, fragmentary arpeggios atop Alex Lukashevsky's chirruping guitar. Together, the pair only serve to further the sense of disorientation. Nicole Rampersaud (first-ever Composer in Residence at Halifax's OBEY Convention) marks the end of the brief "Percussive Interlude" with blast of unhinged trumpet virtuosity before the suite concludes, reprising the band's 2011 tune "Triller" in a fresh, energetic arrangement. The constant interplay between the percussion trio of Nick Fraser (Clean Feed Records, Eric Chenaux), Evan Cartwright (Tasseomancy, Andy Shauf, Jerry Paper) and Blake Howard (GUH, Rock Plaza Central, Sandro Perri) throughout the record anchors the music while also injecting it full of mind-bending counterpoint.”

Limited to 300 copies with risograph printed artwork by Jesjit Gill.

Release by Lorna Records

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