GoGo Penguin ‘GGP/RMX’ 2LP/CD (Blue Note) 4/5

‘GGP/RMX’ is the new album release from Manchester’s very own, GoGo Penguin – the fourth of their full-length projects to be released through Blue Note Records.

Since their debut back in 2012, the GoGo Penguin trio have ascended to a colossal level of success. Following their first two album releases with the prestigious Matthew Halsall-founded Gondwana Records – ‘Fanfares’ (2012) and ‘v2.0’ (2013) – the revered Blue Note Records managed to solidify the trio’s subsequent releases amongst their own hallowed catalogue.

Comprised of pianist Chris Illingworth, double bassist Nick Blacka and drummer Rob Turner, GoGo Penguin have managed to maintain a fairly voracious release schedule with their Blue Note debut ‘Man Made Object’ (2016) followed by ‘A Humdrum Star’ (2018) and last year’s self-titled ‘GoGo Penguin’. With a handful of EPs thrown in and around that schedule as well, extensive touring… theirs is an inspired and tireless work ethic that continues to appease listeners with each release.

It would probably be fair to cite this insatiable energy as translating across to their music as well – their distinct style of jazz is continually linked to finding inspiration from a range of genres and styles as diverse as the fast-paced nature of broken beat and electronica while also masterfully being able to capture the cinematic scope through classical music. ‘GGP/RMX’ delivers as very much the appropriate extension to everything GoGo Penguin have put out beforehand. Ultimately, ‘GGP/RMX’ is a remix album to the trio’s self-titled release from last year with every song finding itself the subject of reinterpretations from a range of diverse and mostly electronica-based artists.

Cornelius remixing ‘Kora’ is the perfect introduction into this new genre-mashing universe – easing us into these new sonic textures slowly while still highlighting how much of GoGo Penguin’s original compositions were able to sit alongside these electronic counterparts. Yosi Horikawa’s take on ‘Embers’ really brings out the menacing and sombre perspective on the track – still a highlight though – and James Holden’s reimagining of ‘Totem’ is genuinely inspired. The eight+ minute remix transforms the track into a bleak, Blade Runner soundscape that is just bliss. The very presence of ‘Petit_a’ is a nice surprise – originally a track reserved for the Japanese version of ‘GoGo Penguin’, a live version was later available on their ‘Live from Studio 2’ EP in 2020; here though Clark’s remix takes the track on a complete journey starting with an affectionate lament before transporting the track through various stages of electronic beats and bliss. Portico Quartet’s sublime rendition of ‘Don’t Go’ could very well deliver as the album’s gleaming highlight though – an exquisite album closer.

Presenting GoGo Penguin’s music in these exciting new concepts makes ‘GGP/RMX’ a thrilling experiment and an excellent accompaniment to the GoGo Penguin catalogue. While many of the songs here do present the trio’s music in seemingly entirely new concepts much has always been made about their versatility and ability to create music from a myriad of influences – and when you consider how much of a fit some of these combinations actually are – the project serves as further testament to their distinct style.

Imran Mirza

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GoGo Penguin ‘Man Made Object’ 2LP/CD (Blue Note) 3/5