New York-based jazz quintet Black Host thrives on contrast, and “Hover,” the opening cut from debut album Life In The Sugar Candle Mines, is a prime example. In the version below — cut-and-pasted from the 10-minute original — the contrast isn’t subtle: it opens with dissociative, barely-there free jazz, before settling into a major-key uplift of sustained guitar, impressionistic piano, post-rock bass, and a 4/4 beat, courtesy of band leader Gerald Cleaver. But as soon as we start feeling comfortable, the vibe’s disrupted by a fragmented, “Lonely Women” melody, the urgency of which is punctuated by Brandon Seabrook’s fuzzy guitar and the aggressive saxophone articulations of Darius Jones. This musical contrast is complemented by director Mario Latham’s video, which features dirty stone sidewalks next to pristine cobblestones, urban decay foregrounded against a bustling city life, film sped up and slowed down, imagery from various periods of New York jumbled together to set the structural, claustrophobic elements of city life (signs telling you to do this and that) against the ecstasy of dance and the freedom implied in wide open skies.
Also be sure to seek out the original version of “Hover,” which features a stunning piano solo by Cooper-Moore and several dissonant buildups that showcase Cleaver’s intuitive sense of dynamics and rhythmic interplay. It’ll also show how the video’s version is a rare moment of clarity in an otherwise much more complex and penetrating exploration.
Life In The Sugar Candle Mines is out now on Northern Spy.
• Northern Spy: http://northernspyrecords.com