Slowly Rolling Camera ‘Where the Streets Lead’ LP/CD (Edition) 4/5

Colliding the worlds of jazz, ambient, trip-hop and cinematic soundscapes, “Where the streets lead” is Slowly Rolling Camera’s follow-up to their 2018 release “Juniper”. The core of the band; Dave Stapleton on Fender Rhodes, Piano and Moog, Deri Roberts on electronics and Elliot Bennett on drums, are joined by some of Edition’s A-Listers for this recording; regular collaborator, guitarist Stuart McCallum, alongside saxophonists Chris Potter and Mark Lockheart, trumpeter Verneri Pohjola, bassist Jasper Hoiby and vocalist Sachai Vasandani. There’s also an eight-piece string section, just to add to the ambition of this project.

Naturally and organically progressing on from the band’s “Juniper” album, there’s a sharp focus to the new compositions, whilst still benefiting from an ‘open’ feel, mindfully leaving time and space for the guest musicians to make their mark. This is an album about opportunity, about embracing unknowns and seeing what life throws at you. It’s a reflection on searching for balance, a sense of purpose and identity in everyday life. For the core group of Dave Stapleton, Deri Roberts and Elliot Bennett, it’s a unified take on the journey and the influences that have shaped them all individually and as a collective.

The exploration of sonic soundscapes, through melody, layered colour and texture, and the intelligent mix of instrumentation and production, is not that unusual these days. Slowly Rolling Camera, and to a larger extent The Cinematic Orchestra, have journeyed out on their own adventurous musical paths for years now., paving the way for others to follow. Floating Points’ recent album “Promises”, featuring the legendary saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, is one of the best examples of how the fusing of styles and genres can work so well in the right hands. What I like about “Where the streets lead” is its unlimited scope and unbridled ambition. There’s an obvious emphasis on collaboration, creating an involving atmosphere for the listener to tune in to.

The eight tunes on this recording flow effortlessly from one to another, the coolest of vibes prevalent throughout the whole album. The title track grabs my attention immediately, its warm, hazy atmosphere infused with rich melodies as the tune builds with the gorgeous strings adding a depth of passion that works particularly well with the soprano sax and guitar eventually taking this piece into its exciting finale. “The Afternoon of Human Life” weaves its own magical journey, with tenor sax lifting the tune to higher plains of existence. “Widest Possible Aperture” toys with its ambient beginning, before exploding into full and joyous life. The power of the emotive strings burns brightly on the excellent “Feels Like Fiction”, a mesmerising cinematic adventure that cajoles with intent. The band have perhaps saved the best til last though, “A Force For Good” revelling in an almost Nordic atmospheric beauty, with Phojola’s intimate style of trumpet playing adding such an emotive depth of beauty that one just can’t fail to be drawn in by this stunning piece of music.

If you’re going to buy this album, I would imagine it’s well worth investing in the limited edition 180g vinyl, each copy with foil stamped limited edition numbering, signed postcard and 12-page booklet of photography, with commissioned poetry by Antony Dunn accompanying the photographs. A quality package, to sit nicely alongside some very good music.

Mike Gates