On Record – Various Artists: Sunny Side Up (Brownswood)

reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

After the huge success of last year’s documentation of young jazzers in London, We Out Here, Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood label up sticks to the other side of the world for a similarly themed presentation from Melbourne.

Sunny Side Up – as its name suggests – is a celebration of a scene free from musical constraints, happy to take its stimulus from soul, jazz or club culture as the label’s detailed notes proclaim.

What’s the music like?

As free as the preamble suggests it should be. The nine tracks were all recorded at The Grove, a studio housed in the northern district of Coburg, glued together by engineer Nick Herrera and musical director Silentjay.

Phil Stroud’s Banksia begins with shimmering textures bolstered by a dubby bass, before urgent swirls cut to low slung grooves in Dufresne’s Pick Up / Galaxy. Soft breathed sax and heady vocals work well in Kuzich’s There Is No Time, while Audrey Powne makes clever use of micro tones to up the tension for a trumpet solo in Bleeding Hearts.

Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange use broken beats, drum fills, piano and flute for the energetic Powers 2 (The People), then Laneous’ Nice To See You brings a rush of positivity with a series of heady chord progressions and vocal couplets. Silentjay himself works a long melody over samba-infused beats to find Eternal / Internal Peace, while Horatio Luna’s The Wake-Up starts with dreamy, keyboard-led meandering but moves to smooth club grooves.

Finally Allysha Joy’s Orbit makes a powerful impact with its richly scored orchestration and soothing but heady vibes.

From all those descriptions you get an idea of the compilation’s open minded approach but also its careful planning and sequencing.

Does it all work?

Yes – a rich variety of talent that works well in sequence. The different approaches and musical styles are ideal for those looking for something a little different – and fans of the label’s Bubblers series will find plenty here to enjoy.

Is it recommended?

For sure. Brownswood have some serious talent on their hands here, and Sunny Side Up is its ideal platform. The musicians featured seem set for great things in the future if this is anything to go by.

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