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Two years on from their highly praised work The Vampires Meet Lionel Loueke,The Vampires return with a new offering: Pacifica.
The Vampires are trailblazers for a new generation of creative jazz talent from Australia, having gained critical attention worldwide by pushing the genre into new realms. Creating a distinctive sound that is undoubtedly their own, the band has garnered praise from US Downbeat (“phenomenal”), UK Guardian (“seductive genre hopping creativity”), The Saturday Paper (“one of my favourite albums of the year”) and All About Jazz (“gold all over”). The Vampires have received nominations for Australia’s ARIA awards, Bell Awards, AIR Awards, and were the first instrumental act to be short-listed for the Australian Music Prize.
Whilst Pacifica sees the Vampires return to the classic chord-less quartet format, the new album is an evolution of the band's sound, leaning further into recording production. 14 new tracks feature the band’s primary compositional voices of saxophonist Jeremy Rose and trumpeter Nick Garbett, whilst adding exciting new tracks for the first time by bassist Alex Boneham and drummer Alex Masso.
Over 53 minutes, Pacifica extends what’s gone before, weaving the bands diverse world-roots jazz stylistic influences together with subtle delicacy, bringing together moments of spontaneity and composition to dramatic affect. “Our music has always been about creating snapshots: places we’ve been to, people we’ve met, musical cultures that fascinated us, drawing from all corners of the world,” says Jeremy Rose. “I feel now that this process is merging, becoming more of the same thing, more authentic for us. In some ways, we are just starting to find our own voice, and this album gets closer to that.”
The album also expands their use of instruments with prominent features of Alex Masso’s percussion on short tracks, Alex Boneham’s electric bass, and a cameo on piano by Rose. Masso says “We followed our instinct on this album, often letting the group decide creatively, leading us into unexpected places. It’s as though we weren’t making decisions on our own, rather the band’s concept lead the music rather than ourselves. We felt more comfortable taking advantage of the production too, using effects, drum machines and extensive multitracking. This has become part of our compositional process now as much as writing a good melody.”
With the band now living in different parts of the world - Alex Boneham is an established presence in Los Angeles whilst Nick Garbett lives in Lampedusa, Italy (where the eerie yet beautiful cover art images of the migrant shipwreck yard were taken), Pacifica is as much a celebration of the band coming together as it is about their deep, long-standing musical kinship.
Jeremy Rose – saxophone
Nick Garbett – trumpet
Alex Boneham – bass
Alex Masso – drums
about the music
1. Tofik (Masso) The album features a number of short percussion tracks, such as Tofik, with Alex Masso playing layers of cajon, pandeiro, drum kit, tambourine, woodblocks and other hand percussion. The title comes from a memorable visit to a small Polish village where his wife grew up. Tofik is Mama’s much-loved dog.
2. Little Mountain (Rose) A nickname for Jeremy’s daughter, Little Mountain, who was born around the time of the album.
3. Don Pacifico (Garbett) Don Pacifico (pronounced Don Pachificio) is a mythical character from the tiny Italian island of Linosa, deep in the Mediterranean Sea. It is said he once wrestled a nine-foot giant squid aboard his tiny wooden fishing boat and proceeded to row the beast ashore just in time for the festivities surrounding the 1982 World Cup. Others claim he would frequent the local bars sporting a trained gull upon his shoulder. The gull known as Salvatore could allegedly recite the entire first chapter of Dante's Devine Comedy.
4. The View from Fez (Rose) Inspired by a trip to Fez, Morocco, this piece captures the timelessness of the city and its maze-like streets.
5. Liberty? (Rose) An unanswered growing question in today’s politically charged world.
6. West Mass. (Boneham) The central hook of this piece, the bass line, came to Alex whilst driving through the beautiful country in Western Massachusetts, USA. The figure was recorded into his phone and later used as an anchor for the piece to layer lush textures on. This track was recorded differently to many of the other Vampires pieces, in that the drums and bass were tracked alone, with multiple takes making up the rhythm section parts, and the horns were later overdubbed.
7. Numer Domu 66 (Masso) Numer Domu 66 (“house number 66”) refers to a farm house in a small Polish village that has been home to four generations since the family was displaced after WWII.
8. Lahinch (Garbett) Inspired by a trip Nick took to visit some friends in the stunningly beautiful town of Lahinch on Ireland's northwest coast, known for the Cliffs of Moher and Kenny's Bar where you can sample the best Guinness in town.
9. Annica (Rose) Annica, another name for impermanence in Buddhism, served as inspiration for the piece.
10. Overnight (Rose) This piece was written whilst remembering the fateful night when the 2017 American election results were revealed, and the feeling that a historic shift in world politics had just occurred.
11. Aeon (Rose) “Vital force”, Aeon is a tour de force for the band. Also the name of a shopping mall in Melaka, Malaysia, where he retreated for iced coffee and air conditioning.
12. Adrianek (Masso) Dedicated to Alex Masso's nephew: a one-year old keen drummer.
13. Vampage (Boneham) This piece was an attempt to capture what the Vampires do best - vamping! Built off the idea of a vamp-rampage (“vampage!”), the band takes the composition into some free improvisation before returning. The horn themes are played in reverse order on the way out.
14. Little Dip (Rose) A landscape sketch of a stretch of coast where the band stopped for a break during a March 2018 tour in South Australia. Overlooking the Great Australian Bight, the piece evokes the expansiveness, wild ocean and unforgiving landscape.