Slowly Rolling Camera – Juniper (2018)

Slowly Rolling Camera - Juniper (2018)
Artist: Slowly Rolling Camera
Album: Juniper
Genre: Neo-Soul
Origin: UK
Released: 2018
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps
Tracklist:
Juniper (07:46)
Helsinki (05:56)
A Thousand Lights (02:47)
Hyperloop (05:30)
Crossings (07:09)
Nature’s Ratio (01:58)
The Outlier (05:32)
Eight Days (05:53)

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If Slowly Rolling Camera isn’t already working on a film score or two, then some director somewhere is really missing out. The Welsh outfit occupies a beautifully lush spot in the music world at the intersection of jazz, trip-hop and soul-soothing electronica. It’s sweeping yet intimate stuff, vivid and emotional on a widescreen scale in hi-def. This was true for their first two full- lengths as well, but Juniper shows them making a core change and producing their finest outing to date.

That’s nothing against former member Dionne Bennett, whose leisurely croon helped add a rich R&B angle to their self-titled debut (Edition, 2014) and its followup All Things (Edition, 2016), plus the odd single or EP in between. The group’s sound was first conceived as a kind of modern-age instrumental fusion, however, and they’re clearly invigorated by returning to the looser possibilities of those less song-based roots. The trio of Dave Stapleton (keys), Elliott Bennett (drums) and Deri Roberts (electronics and sound design)—aided by a crew of top-notch Edition Records colleagues on horns, bass and guitar—somehow comes out both more futuristic and organic than ever.

Stapleton’s floating synth weaves a vista of swirls and shadings without going retro or using overly obvious tones. Between his atmospheres and Elliott’s brisk skittering, the pieces go from easy ambience to dreamy mid-tempo most gracefully. For his part Roberts doesn’t stand out as an instrumental voice, but provides a vast soundstage for the others with subtly evocative colors around the edges.

The spell they weave shows an expert ear for well-crafted dynamics, yet the result flows as naturally as flowers opening to the sun. “Helsinki” is buoyed by the reeds in a calmly majestic way; the jittery “Hyperloop” gives Stuart McCallum a spot to turn up the heat with some smoldering guitar. In other spots they use a full group of horns for mashed-up Motown patterns; see the loose extended jam of “Crossings” and “The Outlier” with its jagged game of rhythm hopskotch. Vastly expansive or close as a whisper, Slowly Rolling Camera offers a warm immersive experience in a niche all their own—a beauty at any speed.
By GENO THACKARA

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