GoGo Penguin blasted into a the instrumental scene a couple of years ago with their amazing début album which showcases the piano and the drums in a jazzy drum and bass styled setting. Much hasn’t changed with their follow up V2.0 but when the space that you can twist those elements around is so vast, you don’t really need to.
Opening “Murmuration” is a low key jazzy number with simple piano chords and rolling percussion. There’s a lamenting double bass that provides a much needed low end and the track evolves and envelopes itself into a dramatic finale over the second half. The addition of some minimal synth strings is an inspired decision as it bleeds every drop of tension out of the song. “Garden Dog Barbecue” is a tribute to pure piano magic. Duelling pianos take on different melodies and simply bash the living daylights out of the ivory keys. It’s quite freeform in places but never so out there that it loses you or the plot. I was in awe of their finger work – it’s mind blowing. “Kamaloka” turns to a more flowing melody as the ever circling chords are accented by simple higher pitched piano melodies that interplay with the drums and bass. “Fort” sounds like the piano is making rain drops whilst the drums and bass make the most funkiest track behind the pianos eyes. It has a melody that you could listen on repeat for ten minutes and not notice five of those ten minutes go by.
“One Percent” is a foreboding track that has its piano constantly switching where the main piano chords are being played in the drum loops. It keeps you on your toes and slightly unsettled, especially as the instruments start glitching later in the track – it’s really impressive that they can do glitching and stay in a beat as well. “Home” is a brooding simmer of slightly discordant notes and chords that have a slight Spanish flavour in their make up but that’s down to the bass and drums going off and doing their own things – like alternative flamencos. It’s not until “The Letter” where you get some respite and gentile playing. It’s slow, spacious and lingering with its echoing drums matching the long held notes as it gently seeps down your speakers. “To Drown In You” is also a quieter track although the very tight percussive loops constantly snap and slap in your ears. It’s the combination of fast drums and slow piano that make the track stand out and makes “Shock and Awe” more powerful. The latter track is an ambience piece of ticking clocks, guitar after effects and a few warm piano chords. It’s like the clearing of the mists before the simple, elegant beauty of “Hopopono” closes the album with the most understated track on the album, but one my favourites. It’s a simple melody, a beautiful execution and all the emotion that GoGo Penguin can muster squashed into three minutes of heaven.
Frankly “V2.0” is a masterpiece. It’s astounding from start to finish. I would never have thought an album labelled as Jazz could have found its way into my heart quite like this album has. Watch out everyone – a new contender for album of the year has arrived.