Where are you to even begin with Illegal Jazz Brunch and their Slice Of Life. The very collection of words itself is beyond its own ability to garner interest. The Vienna based four-piece, after two teasing singles earlier in the year, revealed their majoritively instrumental slice of audio description through an equation of Math-Rock differing to the usual in its numerically focussed composition.
Alternatively said, the band offer a newer take on the genre and this is how it went. Beginning with ‘Orange Window’, the band ease-in via the known. A familiar tone introduces a band that has a penchant for sound tuned a little lower. ‘Orange Window’ is fundamentally born from Math-Rock and its two-stage intro boasts a considerable heaviness. The opener may be familiar, but it isn’t fully in bed with Math-stylings and this Post-Rock-esque display garners nothing but intrigue as Illegal Jazz Brunch up the intense ante.
‘Breaker’ moves on via a reflective ebb that again, only but flirts with Math as it sets the scene. Much akin to its predecessor, ‘Breaker’ momentarily decides to move fully into this territory supported by bridges of grit that are laced in a prevailing tone just enough to hold continuity. IJB are very much bringing a new abrasive spin to the genre as they seamlessly merge outside influence. ‘Breaker’ shines substantially in its latter half as the ILB’s hybridised sound begins to settle unconditionally.
However, cleverly, the band orchestrate an excellent u-turn. The symbiotic mass of noodling strings, playful basslines and drum-flutter so synonymous with the genre assume dominance in ’25th Of April’. This stark change will please the purists and entice those for whom IJB are their first stepping stone. From 1:28 unto 1:57, the band leave a welcome reminder of their own take on the genre. ’25th Of April’ then returns to the archetypal mass of playful intricacy ahead of more juxtaposing intersections leading to the end of the track.
I’ve talked of an affinity for Post-Rock, but in truth, in tracks such as ‘Wostok’ Illegal Jazz Brunch progress further. The band infuse a considerable amount of melodic Alternative Rock into their already unique stance on the Math-Rock stylistic. Of course, this is all laced with tonal and/or downright obvious displays of the foundational genre but stands ‘Wostok’ as an unambiguous highlight.
‘Leery Eyes’ breaks rank unto a beat of Mathy-Indie-Rock accompanied by softly-sung vocals. This is of course before the stark change in time signature and tone commands attention again. Math-Rock is known for these short sharp deviations but usually within its own genre-parameters. This is entirely what makes the four-piece so successful through their use of the structure but not always its natural content.
‘The Long Night’ introduces itself with a strangely alluring mess of warped tones that leave nothing but intrigue. Track six has a substantial change in mood. The band slowly and intricately build layers again in the manner of Post-Rock yet sporadically and spasmodically show-off across the board. ‘The Long Night’ teases and teases prior to a cathartic and considerably darker and brooding blast. The band’s technical prowess is notable but ‘The Long Night’ is another shameless display of skill. IJB’s tones in track six warp all conception of your immersion and your ability to accurately keep track of what your ears are experiencing in the best way possible.
‘Sunny Days’ ebbs along in the manner of time on a day as bright as its namesake. Further lashings of Indie and Alternative Rock clash with the prevailing Math-Rock tone and sentient intricacy. I’d be lying here if I said that fans of Shoegaze’s tendency to genre-hop wouldn’t find ‘Sunny Days’ appealing. Cutting stop-starts and breakdown-esque backing allow this tracks inviting melodic leads to truly embed themselves.
‘Dancer’ injects a tempo you didn’t release this debut needed and does so unapologetically as it closes Slice Of Life-proper. ‘Elevator’ is a Spotify bonus track that offers playfully yet oddly befitting slice of Jazz that at this stage of the record, can do no wrong.
Illegal Jazz Brunch and their Slice Of Life may not be the most “traditional” but that doesn’t negate how immersive and dynamic it is a debut effort. Illegal Jazz Brunch now have more than a just a unique name, but a high-quality benchmark.