I investigated WTB after hearing an, as yet untitled, piece on BBC3’s J to Z.
I was instantly taken with it and reminded of the music of National Health.
It’s a wonderful album. I listen through ear buds, via Bluetooth speaker and put through the AVR to fill a room. All are immersive, while different.
Favorite track: Not my Usual Type.
This recording is just exemplary and possibly my favourite recording of 2020. A slight left field DNA of Henry Cow in places, well maybe. Anyway, every track has a different perspective. Highly recommended and often played in this household.
Troyka unplugged? It feels indeed warm. I'm influenced by a superb gig at the Flute & Tankard in Cardiff. Immersing myself in this music does, gradually, transport me back there.
Favorite track: The Internet.
Chris Montague - guitar
Kit Downes - piano
Ruth Goller - electric bass
Recorded at Eastcote Studios (March 5th & 6th 2019)
Engineer - George Murphy
Mixed by George Murphy at Eastcote Studios
Mastered at TechnologyWorks
Mastering by Peter Beckmann
Produced by Chris Montague, Kit Downes & Ruth Goller
Executive Producer - Michael Janisch
Original Artwork by Sarah Gillespie
Graphic Design by Dave Bush
released May 8, 2020
ABOUT THE ALBUM
Warmer Than Blood is the new venture from critically acclaimed composer and guitarist Chris Montague (Troyka, Squarepusher, Benny Greb). It brings together pianist and ECM recording artist Kit Downes and renowned electric bassist Ruth Goller (Acoustic Ladyland, Melt Yourself Down, Let Spin) for a groundbreaking exploration of Chris’ compositions.
While Chris’s reputation as a startlingly original composer is already well established, not least through his longstanding collaboration with Downes in the much lauded Troyka project, this release marks the first in Chris’ extensive discography to be entirely under his leadership, and his choice of an unusual line-up was both fortuitous and deliberate. “I love how Ruth and Kit both interpret music, they were always going to be my first choice - and writing for a band without drums made us work much harder to create dynamics and shape within each piece. This brought out a whole new dimension in the compositions”. Chris takes inspiration from many sources and it is hard to classify this music, it still has shape and energy, without relying on volume or histrionics to deliver it. All three musicians responded to the deliberately limited sound palette by reaching into their boundless musical imaginations.
‘Irish Intro’ is a spontaneous piece of solo guitar improvisation, a bold introductory statement of identity from Chris. It organically changes one note at a time to create a rolling, waterfall effect. ‘Irish Handcuffs’ is named after a running joke between Chris and Kit about Irish hospitality - ‘Guinness in one hand, Whisky in the other!’ - that illustrates the trio’s ingenious use of hocketting and exact note placement to create a rhythmic clarity. ‘Warmer Than Blood’ derives its title from a poem by Fiona Sampson - its unsettled harmony chimes with the poem’s disturbing imagery, tying together notions of colour, touch, fear and family.
Many of the songs are inspired by Chris’ own life: he wrote much of the album following the birth of his son and ‘FTM’ is named for him - ‘a beautiful ballad that morphs into a kind of horrorshow!’ - ‘Moira’ is a hushed, intimate improvisation inspired by his grandmother, while ‘C Squad’ refers to the trio’s shared Chesham neighbourhood and pays tribute to their long and fruitful creative relationship. ‘Not My Usual’ has a more standard form than Chris usually deploys, with a written melody and chord changes, creating an oasis of calm melodicism - by contrast, ‘The Internet’ sounds deliberately glitchy and uncomfortable to reflect Chris’ ambivalence about the benefits of limitless connectivity.
The lyrical, almost folkloric final track ‘Rendered’ started life as a commission for the opening of Jimi Hendrix’s flat in Handel House, with a score initially created by rubbing manuscript paper onto the woodchipped wallpaper - an aleatory approach that Chris found both challenging and liberating. “It’s a theme for the whole album - me learning to embrace the improvised and the unknown. It doesn’t sound like anyone else’s music and that’s what I’m most proud of”. Warmer Than Blood is suffused with the honesty of Chris’ own personality, the fearless creativity of his collaborators, and the warmth and quirkiness that characterise the trio’s long-term relationship.
"The leader’s densely wrought originals absorbingly stretch his classy trio with pianist Kit Downes and bassist Ruth Goller."
"A programme of beguilingly eccentric compositions."
★★★★ BBC Music Magazine
"His [Montague's] approach to composition and improvisation is intelligent and inventive with the trio achieving a broad range of sounds and dynamics... Distinctive and very much his own."
★★★★ The Jazz Mann
"Warmer Than Blood is an unparalleled album. An absolute must. Super rich in color and atmospheres, inimitable in adventure and brilliant play."
★★★★1/2 Written in Music
"An all-star all-leader trio working in all democracy that revels in its maturity and flexibility."
"There’s much delight from the two leads, separately and together, and the freshness of Montague’s writing will repay lengthy investigation."
London Jazz News
"Throughout the album all three musicians are in intuitive harmony with each other and have created some fantastic music."
Bebop Spoken Here
"Some of the appeal of Warmer Than Blood lies in Montague's toplines. But at least as much comes from the improvisatory focus of the arrangements and the use the players make of the freedoms these offer."
All About Jazz
"An album of open yet busily shaped terrain."
"Improvisation is rife... The album is mesmerising, full of surprises and musical U-turns throughout, equally interesting and thought provoking at the same time"
"Their exchanges, while subtle, are captivating."
Jazz à Babord
"Strong deliveries are tempered with gentle passages and the off-kilter, clashing rhythms are tempered by pin-point note placement."
"Each piece is beautifully crafted and showcases the talent of each member of the trio without ever straying into grandstanding or overblown playing... A real treat."
"The absence of drums lets you in to the interactions of Montague and Downes... Players who give out so much energy."
Hi-Fi News & Record
"'Warmer Than Blood' is suffused with the honesty of Chris’s own personality, the fearless creativity of his collaborators, and the warmth and quirkiness that characterise the trio’s long-term relationship."
Sandy Brown Jazz
"Warmer Than Blood has strong form and energy, without relying on volume or artistic fuss to deliver it."
Rhein Main Magazine
“Chris Montague takes over the musical direction and ensnares us with the finest guitar playing.”
"This is thoughtful and evocative music, with a focus on texture, sound and unpredictable melodic lines."
In League With Paton
"Out of the ordinary!... Poles of calm between nervous passages and high-energy, spontaneous playing."
Musik an sich
supported by 39 fans who also own “Warmer Than Blood”
Creative, fresh, continuously surprising - this is the first album I've bought that is not straight-ahead jazz. Nachoff has won me over with brilliant writing, brilliant musicianship, and evocative arrangements. Just when a solo seems to have completed its exploration of a musical statement, for one example, the low sonorities of a beautiful synth line jump in to add gorgeous texture and to take the musical idea into fascinating territory. Bravo! freshkach