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Contemporary Jazz - Released June 12, 2020 | Blue Note

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The three musicians of GoGo Penguin show up for work every day with a simple goal: To bend, twist, prod and occasionally mutilate repetitive musical patterns until they sprout unanticipated polyrhythmic variations. They're improvisers who are alive to whim and impulse as well as the hypnotic pull of recurring loops; one thrill of "Atomised," the jittery opening track of the UK band's 5th album, involves following a simple high-speed arpeggio as it fractures into shards and is reassembled. Like all great jazz trios, GoGo Penguin intuit, together, when to take the next turn and how hard to lean into it. But the three—pianist Chris Illingworth, bassist Nick Blacka, and drummer Rob Turner – are inspired by breakbeat and the surging vistas of Squarepusher and other electronic adventurers. The compositions are rooted in that machine language.The fundamental tension between jazz impulsiveness and electronic order animates everything GoGo Penguin has done since its 2012 debut. Pieces written for the 2019 film Ocean In a Drop arrived at a nicely settled sweet spot between those extremes, and that gets further development on this album – particularly on the buoyant "F Maj Pixie" and the placid, engagingly meditative "Don't Go." The patterns of these pieces, and others here, seem fairly straightforward at the start. But there's dimensionality at work: What begins as the racing recurring thought of a coder who's compulsive about keeping order on the grid might blossom into something beautifully free, singable, even romantic. © Tom Moon/Qobuz
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Contemporary Jazz - Released November 27, 2020 | Blue Note

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Locked down and unable to tour, GoGo Penguin made the most of the situation by developing their makeshift concert repertoire. This concert sees the virtuous Manchester trio play in a certain Abbey Road Studios. Four out of seven of the tracks from this short 30-minute Live From Studio 2, transmitted live online of the 29th of October 2020, come from their fifth album released in June 2020. This atypical situation rallies like never before pianist Chris Illingworth, drummer Rob Turner and bassist Nick Blacka. Like caged animals suddenly let free, the Mancunians deliver a powerful rendition of their famous concoction of contemporary jazz, electronic music and minimalism. From the first minutes of Totem which opens this EP, the rhythms throb more than we are used to as Illingworth’s fingers dart across the piano keys. “We didn’t want to play in an empty venue, somehow it just felt weird trying to create the energy of a concert in an empty room”, explains Blacka. “But we had recorded an EP in studio 2 back in 2015 and loved the space and somehow it just made sense to film a show here.” Chris Illingworth confirms this: “It’s a really special place and we wanted somewhere intimate that we would be excited to work in and where we could tap into that sense of excitement that you get from a live concert.” For Turner, t is more a question of sound. “When we perform, we’re always reacting to each other but also the crowd. The people and the energy in the space is as much a part of the performance as we are Studio Two is imbued with the ghosts of all the incredible music and musicians that have performed there. It has an atmosphere all of its own. You really feel the expanse of time, how much has happened before you and how much will continue to happen after you.” A great success through and through. © Clotilde Maréchal/Qobuz
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Contemporary Jazz - Released October 4, 2019 | Blue Note

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Released in 1982, Godfrey Reggio’s documentary Koyaanisqatsi has become a cult classic partly thanks to its famous soundtrack by Philip Glass. Both the work and the composer have hugely influenced pianist Chris Illingworth, bassist Nick Blacka and drummer Rob Turner, to the point that in 2015 the British trio devised their own score for Reggio’s film, which they performed exclusively on stage around the world. That project was the starting point for Ocean In A Drop: Music For Film, a five-track EP that draws from their live compositions for Koyaanisqatsi. At the start, Illingworth had no intention of recording this soundtrack. “People kept asking if we’d release the music as an album, but that didn’t feel right to us. The film has a great score already, but we really enjoyed the project and specifically writing music for film, so that provided the inspiration for Ocean In A Drop. Performing the soundtrack live is hugely demanding, both physically and mentally, and the recording was no different. We recorded the tracks together live like we have with our previous recordings, not overdubbing and layering individual parts together.” The influences from Philip Glass, which are already an integral part of GoGo Penguin’s DNA, are multiplied tenfold here, yet they never suffocate the improvisations or the lyrical and atmospheric melodies found throughout these five beautifully stirring tracks. © Max Dembo/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released October 20, 2014 | Gondwana Records

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Jazz - Released February 9, 2018 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

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Jazz - Released September 2, 2016 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

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Jazz - Released February 5, 2016 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

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Chris Illingworth, the pianist from GoGo Penguin, says that he chose the title Man Made Object partly due to his fascination for robotics and transhumanism. Yet that’s exactly what the trio who formed in Manchester in 2012 are: human. While their DNA is largely made up of jazz, we also find traces of pop, classical and even electro. Like with v2.0, released in 2014, the Mancunian’s third album - released at the start of 2016 - was recorded and produced by Joe Reiser and Brendan Williams at the Giant Wafer studios in the heart of Wales as well as at the 80 Hertz studios in Manchester. The album has an incredibly organic sound and they show off their great ability to tame complex melodies. A special mention goes to the rhythmic section composed of double bassist Nick Blacka and drummer Rob Turner who bring the group a masterful stability. © CM/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released March 17, 2014 | Gondwana Records

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Jazz - Released November 19, 2012 | Gondwana Records

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Jazz - Released June 12, 2020 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

In 2019, England's GoGo Penguin issued Ocean in a Drop: Music for Film, as a stopgap between full-lengths. One of its tracks, "Time Lapse City" inadvertently offered a metaphorical description of the band's approach to making music. Always in motion, shifting constantly between repetition, rhythms, and improvisation, this is a group clearly influenced by Philip Glass' early minimalist, cyclical recordings. That said, they absorbed them simultaneously with devotion for techno, drum'n'bass, post-bop, post-rock, and electric jazz. The group's self-titled fifth album underscores the accuracy of these influences alongside new musical directions. The best verb to describe the music found here is "propelled." It doesn't rely on grooves so much as energetic trio conversation: the space behind Chris Illingworth's suspended, alternately hovering and biting piano lines is framed by the rich, woody tone of Nick Blacka's upright bass playing and the skittering, forceful, breakbeat-driven drumming of Rob Turner. Their inherent group lyricism and infectious rhythms are in full force as Illingworth's skillful sound-sculpting is revealed in more intricate detail on opener "#1" as it produces natural, rustling atmospherics and ghostly, floating piano. Turner's infectious percussion is tweaked with found objects and prepared props and delay, while Blacka adds fat percussive plucks, reverb, and arco playing as both a tonal guidepost and rhythmic backdrop. First single "Atomised" is introduced with rolling breaks juxtaposed with Illingworth's hypnotic piano lines. Blacka offers the changes through each minimally evolving cycle. When the pianist moves afield, it's with cascading chords that eventually drop out to allow Turner's kit a snare groove that pushes the tune toward lithe, mutant, almost unbearably beautiful funk. "Signal in the Noise" commences with the pianist strumming the strings inside his instrument as Turner and Blacka assert a pedal-to-the-medal post-rock groove upon which Illingworth inquires in layered chords, shimmering ostinatos, and beat-conscious vamps. On "Kora," Illingworth emulates the pulse and tonality of the African folk instrument as Turner adds funky snare breaks and tom-tom choogle. Blacka helms the hooky melody as the pianist begins to extrapolate in fours with intervallic pulses. While "To the Nth" is introduced by reverbed glissando piano and the intricate accents from Turner's kit add force and motion in equal measure. The number gradually unfolds with syncopated, classically tinged post-bop; a lyric melody develops between repetitive piano lines and fat, meaty, distorted accents from Blacka. If there is one complaint about this beguiling, driving outing, it's that after its 44-minute running time, Gogo Penguin's "magic in motion" aesthetic is so beautifully articulated in this immersive, mysterious music, they will leave listeners wanting much, much more. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Acid Jazz - Released October 2, 2020 | Gondwana Records

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Jazz - Released December 4, 2015 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

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Contemporary Jazz - Released October 4, 2019 | Blue Note

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Jazz - Released November 27, 2020 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

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Jazz - Released February 9, 2018 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

Go Go Penguin's genre-bending, EDM-influenced brand of jazz has earned the Manchester-based trio plaudits, including being shortlisted for the Mercury Prize in 2014. The band's fourth studio album, and second for Blue Note, 2018's atmospheric A Humdrum Star, finds them delving even deeper into an electronic-influenced sound that favors texture and mood over standards or jazz-based elements. Once again featured are bassist Nick Blacka, pianist Chris Illingworth, and drummer Rob Turner. Working with producers Joe Reiser and Brendan Williams, the trio offers a set of original compositions rife with skittering breakbeats, roiling piano melodies, and warm acoustic bass grooves. It's a style that seems informed as much by the computer-based production of Four Tet, and Amon Tobin as the hypnotic classical compositions of Philip Glass and the '70s jazz of Keith Jarrett. To achieve this cross-pollinated aesthetic, the band purportedly balance their compositional process between writing songs on their instruments and utilizing electronic production programs that they then translate to live instrumentation. As a result, these songs have the wave-like flow of electronic dance tracks but with the expansive, acoustic atmosphere of classic ECM recordings. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Jazz - Released September 2, 2016 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

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Jazz - Released February 5, 2016 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

Coming off their sophomore effort, 2014's Barclaycard Mercury Prize-shortlisted V2.0, GoGo Penguin return with their equally ambitious 2016 follow-up, Man Made Object. A jazz trio at their core, Britain's GoGo Penguin have garnered well-earned plaudits for their distinctive, genre-bending sound that combines elements of forward-thinking post-bop with stylistic elements borrowed from indie rock and electronic dance music -- all without the aid of any actual electronic instrumentation. Showcased in GoGo Penguin are the talents of pianist Chris Illingworth, bassist Nick Blacka, and drummer Rob Turner. Together on Man Made Object, they perform wholly original compositions that straddle the line between group improvisations and well-constructed thematic compositions. Cuts like "All Res," "Branches Break," and the driving, punky "Smarra," all have the signifiers of jazz (sophisticated harmonies, kinetic rhythms, and an introverted, exploratory energy), but play out more like an adventurous Radiohead track, or the soundtrack music to a '70s heist film. The results bring to mind the work of similarly inclined artists like pianist Brad Mehldau and groups like the Bad Plus and Medeski, Martin & Wood. There's also a ruminative, impressionistic vibe running through much of the material on Man Made Object that positions GoGo Penguin at the vanguard of the new British jazz movement alongside the likes of trumpeter Matthew Halsall and bassist Jasper Hoiby's trio Phronesis. Comparisons aside, what sets GoGo Penguin apart from their contemporaries is their inventive group interplay and knack for dramatic arranging. Often, Illingworth will set up a pattern on piano, like the spritely, dancing intro to "Unspeakable Word," and Blacka and Turner will join in, answering his pattern with their own contrapuntal footwork. Just as you think the trio are going to lock up legs and topple over, they fall into a gorgeous minor-key stride and dissipate into a sweepingly ominous mid-song bass solo. Ultimately, it's these moments of dazzling group dynamics that help make Man Made Object a jazz-infused work of art on GoGo Penguin's own terms. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Electronic - To be released May 7, 2021 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

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Electronic - To be released May 7, 2021 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

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Jazz - Released February 5, 2016 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

Coming off their sophomore effort, 2014's Barclaycard Mercury Prize-shortlisted V2.0, GoGo Penguin return with their equally ambitious 2016 follow-up, Man Made Object. A jazz trio at their core, Britain's GoGo Penguin have garnered well-earned plaudits for their distinctive, genre-bending sound that combines elements of forward-thinking post-bop with stylistic elements borrowed from indie rock and electronic dance music -- all without the aid of any actual electronic instrumentation. Showcased in GoGo Penguin are the talents of pianist Chris Illingworth, bassist Nick Blacka, and drummer Rob Turner. Together on Man Made Object, they perform wholly original compositions that straddle the line between group improvisations and well-constructed thematic compositions. Cuts like "All Res," "Branches Break," and the driving, punky "Smarra," all have the signifiers of jazz (sophisticated harmonies, kinetic rhythms, and an introverted, exploratory energy), but play out more like an adventurous Radiohead track, or the soundtrack music to a '70s heist film. The results bring to mind the work of similarly inclined artists like pianist Brad Mehldau and groups like the Bad Plus and Medeski, Martin & Wood. There's also a ruminative, impressionistic vibe running through much of the material on Man Made Object that positions GoGo Penguin at the vanguard of the new British jazz movement alongside the likes of trumpeter Matthew Halsall and bassist Jasper Hoiby's trio Phronesis. Comparisons aside, what sets GoGo Penguin apart from their contemporaries is their inventive group interplay and knack for dramatic arranging. Often, Illingworth will set up a pattern on piano, like the spritely, dancing intro to "Unspeakable Word," and Blacka and Turner will join in, answering his pattern with their own contrapuntal footwork. Just as you think the trio are going to lock up legs and topple over, they fall into a gorgeous minor-key stride and dissipate into a sweepingly ominous mid-song bass solo. Ultimately, it's these moments of dazzling group dynamics that help make Man Made Object a jazz-infused work of art on GoGo Penguin's own terms. © Matt Collar /TiVo