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Gogo Penguin – A Humdrum Star album review

A not-so-humdrum fourth from the former Mercury Music Prize nominees.

Though sonically they have little in common, it’s hard not to compare Manchester trio GoGo Penguin to Three Trapped Tigers, another jazz group whose intelligent and visceral use of elements from electronic music transported them into another genre, and nigh on a new musical plane. Where TTT’s intense riffs and powerhouse drumming pushed them into a math rock milieu, GoGo Penguin have opted for a less intense tack. Nevertheless, it would be easy to see fans of math crossover groups such as Gallops or 65daysofstatic enjoying A Humdrum Star. The most exciting tracks are those where the band display a masterful control of tempo and musical momentum; the elastic timings and percussion of Strid, for example, the slowly unfolding patterns of Reactor or the fantastic main drum motif in Return To Text. The piano work of Bardo meanwhile has something of the kinetic sensibility of avant-garde genius Lubomyr Melnyk about it, even as it leaves breathing space in between its dense piano riffs. GoGo Penguin’s strength has been the ability to bring non-jazz heads into the fold. On A Humdrum Star they better their own winning formula.