Thieves Kitchen: The Clockwork Universe

Complex jazz-prog from Anglo-Swede collective.

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There’s very little justice in this world, but if there’s a band who deserve a break, it’s Thieves Kitchen.

Six albums in and, with a nomination at the 2014 Prog Awards, the Thieves have arrived. The Clockwork Universe seamlessly blends Nordic cool with English class as it explores life in conflict with technological progress. The centrepiece is 19-minute behemoth The Scientist’s Wife, a sinuous meditation on neglect that showcases all that makes the band ace: Thomas Johnson’s jazzy keys, Phil Mercy’s Holdsworthian guitar, and Amy Darby’s cool vocals, all held together by one of the crispest rhythm sections in the biz. Indeed, Änglagård bassmeister Johan Brand and drummer ex-Sanguine Hum’s Paul Mallyon achieve a new level of chemistry, especially on chop-tacular Prodigy. And that’s before the flute of Anna Holmgren is dropped into the mix. The Canterbury comparisons may be inevitable but the Thieves have their very own voice: they’re unafraid of exquisitely melancholic instrumentals such as Astrolabe, and the Änglagård contingent feel better bedded-in this time. At one point Darby sings, ‘We go back to the start again’, on an album you’ll be sure to return to time and time again.