Animation: Transparent Heart

Back in New York City for this stunning aural portrait.

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In the notes for the second album by Bob Belden’s Animation project, the US sax player states that this, “is not a jazz record, it’s about my life in Manhattan”. The music is, he says, an honest reflection of the lingering tension there since 9/11.

Consistently energetic and dramatic, much like the iconic city itself, these musical sketches benefit from strikingly clear lines and streamlined arrangements that frame intense, often superb performances by Belden’s associates, remarkably all still in their twenties.

Mature, world-class contributions come from all concerned, but trumpeter Peter Claggett is an especially outstanding presence across the entire album. Amid the seething exuberance there often lurks a plaintive, melancholic ache within the sparse, poignant themes, carrying luminous echoes of the startling harmonies peppering early Weather Report, and, inevitably, electric-era Miles Davis. Yet Animation sounds utterly contemporary.

On the final track, Occupy!, with the voices of protesters chanting ‘who do you serve?’ Belden asks what it means to be both apart from and a part of something bigger than ourselves.

Sid Smith

Sid's feature articles and reviews have appeared in numerous publications including Prog, Classic Rock, Record Collector, Q, Mojo and Uncut. A full-time freelance writer with hundreds of sleevenotes and essays for both indie and major record labels to his credit, his book, In The Court Of King Crimson, an acclaimed biography of King Crimson, was substantially revised and expanded in 2019 to coincide with the band’s 50th Anniversary. Alongside appearances on radio and TV, he has lectured on jazz and progressive music in the UK and Europe.  

A resident of Whitley Bay in north-east England, he spends far too much time posting photographs of LPs he's listening to on Twitter and Facebook.