Monday 2 September 2019

'A State of Flow' by Ishmael Ensemble + Pete Cunningham/Blue-in-Green:PODCAST #25

'A State of Flow' is the debut full-length project from the UK's Ishmael Ensemble released in May of this year.

Comprised of band members Jake Spurgeon (synth, keyboards), Stephen Mullins (guitar), Rory O'Gorman (drums) and bandleader Pete Cunningham (production, saxophone), 'A State of Flow' is the perfect culmination of their Severn Songs series which were a trio of two-track EPs dating back to 2018, and containing initial versions of the album's 'Full Circle' and 'The River'.

Although 'A State of Flow' serves as the group's debut album, the Ensemble have garnered such a flawless reputation through an incredible body of work for listeners to immerse themselves in including their 'Songs For Knotty' EP (Banoffee Pies Records, 2017), their aforementioned Severn series, and not forgetting their selection of remixes for Chip Wickham, Yama Warashi and the revered reworking of Carl Craig's 'The Melody'. 

While we may never know where Ishmael Ensemble will specifically go with their compositions, that level of unpredictability has in itself become their trademark: 'A State of Flow' masterfully navigates elements of jazz with dance & electronica, and it's a testament to anyone with the ability to make songs seemingly worlds apart like 'The Chapel' and 'Lapwing' both fit perfectly as part of a cohesive project.

And a fairly incredible one at that!

The Ensemble's genre-defying, no rules approach to music-making is inspired making their releases absolute treasures.  And helping bring their compositions to life is the excellence of contributors Holysseus Fly - long-time friend and collaborator who breathes new life into 'Full Circle' (and is also responsible for the album's artwork); Yama Warashi who guest on 'Yellow House' and, as already mentioned, a former recipient of one of the awesome Ishmael remixes, and then there's the esteemed trumpeter Yazz Ahmed who soars on one of the project’s signature songs, ‘The River’.

While fans rightfully embrace 'A State of Flow', we'd still urge new listeners to revisit 'Songs For Knotty' which is not only a stunning introduction to the Ensemble but also features three exclusive live tracks that demonstrate Ishmael's masterful ability to translate their music from the studio to the stage and why they’ve proved to be a leading name within contemporary jazz and electronic music.

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