Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arkestra ‘The Reason Why vol. 2’ (Headspin) 4/5

goran-kajfes-subtropic-arkestraSwedish trumpeter of Balkan heritage Goran Kajfeš has over a couple of albums perfected a highly individual hybrid of styles that is so diverse that it takes in late 1960s Miles Davis, notably from the electric period, as well as pan-Balkan beats from Turkey, the former Yugoslavia and beyond. British influences are not absent and include prog and jazz-rock legends Soft Machine, yet even this is not the limit of Kajfeš’ visionary scope and on the latest adventure in sound, he takes on board the music of Cameroon, Nigeria and Brazil and in the process weaves his own magical spell. Little wonder, then, that he has been likened to a European equivalent of Sun Ra minus the cosmic attachment. A first volume surfaced in 2013 which was not in fact the debut, since the album ‘X/Y’ came out as long ago as 2010.
Of immediate interest this time round is the cover of a musician who has rapidly gained cult status, Francis Bebey’, a polyglot and polymath of immense talent whose music and words are currently being rediscovered. On Bebey’s ‘New Track’ the keyboards hint at ‘In a Silent Way’ with Afro-Beat horns and rhythm guitar and this may well be the track to showcase the album as a whole to a wider audience. Turkish influences abound on the opener. ‘Dokua Seki/Esmerim’, which was co-composed by Turkish drummer Okay Temiz and is indeed a rootsy number that aims at club land and features heavy psychedelic guitar and a memorable bass line from Johan Berkling with a sparse trumpet. What is of interest here for the album in general is how well the unfamiliar instrumentation combines with the more familiar and this is testimony to Kajfeš’ own study and appreciation of other musical traditions that he has carefully blended and incorporated into a cohesive whole. His growing interest in other cultures has extended to Brazil and Milton Nascimento’s early piece ‘A Lua Girou’ works a treat here, almost as though Bill Frisell has been instructed to perform on dissonant guitar. José Gonzalez guest vocals on one number, Yet Again’ which demonstrates another side to Kajfeš’ versatile and all-encompassing approach. This has been garnering support from the rock music press on playlists and may just be the left-field winner for the summer.

Tim Stenhouse