GoGo Penguin Announces New Album
Today, UK instrumental trio GoGo Penguin announced a May 1st release date for their upcoming self-titled album, the band's sixth full-length and their third for Blue Note Records. The announcement comes with the first single "Atomised," a firm favorite of the band's that has GGP gliding over a powerful UK garage beat with a propulsive groove that makes for another hands-in-the-air classic.
When a musical ensemble chooses to self-title an album mid-career, it usually signifies their conviction that they've struck upon the motherlode, hit the jackpot, stepped up and generally arrived at a point they've always striven for but never quite attained before.
Coming from GoGo Penguin at this stage in the game, it's quite a bold statement: the Manchester, England trio have fielded rave reviews for inspiration and originality at every turn since 2013, when they settled on their dream line-up of Chris Illingworth (piano), Rob Turner (drums) and Nick Blacka (bass). Fusing jazz, classical and electronic influences (amongst others) with a thirst for innovation, they won the Mercury Prize for album of the year in 2014 and have enjoyed a success matched by precious few vocal-free groups post-millennium.
GoGo Penguin's music has always defied categorization. In their sound, there have been detectable traces of latter day developments in jazz, such as Sweden's free-thinking Esbjörn Svensson Trio (aka EST), or minimalist classical composers like Steve Reich, John Adams, even Erik Satie. Yet, all in their mid-30's, you can hear that they have grown up in the golden age of electronica, with echoes ranging from rarefied techno (think Aphex Twin; Carl Craig's Innerzone Orchestra), and the emotive melodies and crescendos of European house, through to Roni Size's jazz-infused drum 'n' bass.
"Because I play the double bass, I think I always wanted to have jazz in our music," Blacka says. "But as we've moved through the albums, it's been a very gradual thing for me where I've now finally come to accept that we really just aren't a jazz band. This new album is the one where I thought, 'f it, there's no point even worrying anymore!' That has been really liberating and freeing for all of us".
A big part of GoGo Penguin's impact derives from the way they employ computer technology to compose with, then find ways to record (and perform) the results on acoustic instruments, with help from a surprisingly limited arsenal of effects pedals and delays. Rob confesses, "I spend way more time on my laptop than I do on my drums. The ratio is probably about 90% to 10%."
The self-titled work follows GoGo Penguin's critically acclaimed 2018 album A Humdrum Star. The Washington Post called the full-length "the group's most hypnotic recording yet," while NPR brought them in to perform three songs from A Humdrum Star for a Tiny Desk Concert. In 2019, the trio released Ocean in a Drop: Music for Film. The EP drew inspiration from GGP's celebrated live soundtrack for Godfrey Reggio's 1982 cult doc Koyaanisqatsi, an original score that they've performed for audiences internationally.
June 12th - Los Angeles, CA - Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Cemetery
June 13th - San Francisco, CA - Miner Auditorium (SF Jazz)
June 15th - Portland, OR - Revolution Hall
June 16th - Seattle, WA - The Triple Door
June 18th - Saint Paul, MN - Ordway Music Theatre
June 20th - Chicago, IL - Constellation
June 21st - Chicago, IL - Constellation
June 22nd - Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg
June 24th - Washington, DC - The Hamilton live
Photo Credit: Jon Shard