Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arkestra – The Reason Why Vol 3 album review

Sublime space jazz odysseys from Swedish trumpeter and chums.


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Composer/producer Goran Kajfeš is something of a legend in his native Sweden, having been involved with the likes of Fire! Orchestra, Oddjob, Nacka Forum and the Magic Spirits Quartet. He also runs his own Headspin label, a repository for the genre-flitting music he makes as leader of the Subtropic Arkestra. The third and final volume of Kajfeš’ The Reason Why series follows the format of its predecessors, consisting of radical reinterpretations of semi-obscure gems from across the globe. I’m On My Way/ Patch Of Blue, originally by US ’69, is transformed into a mood-swinging epic that’s roomy enough for ambient tranquility, funk soul and squawky dissonance. The Arkestra’s gift for balancing Afrobeat and ethno-jazz is illustrated by the Orchestre Poly- Rythmo De Cotonou’s Ne Rien Voir, Dire, Entendre, an improvisation around a theme that finds its horn section in full freakout mode. Trance Dance blows West Coast cool into the lungs of Christer Bothén’s 1984 fusion piece. Panda Bear’s You Can Count On Me becomes a rich experimental piece, anchored by mournful trumpet, while Caribou’s Sandy is a model of elegant restraint. Dizzyingly good.

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.