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Lunch Money Life
Immersion Chamber Cal Cashin , May 11th, 2020 08:31

With the Comet is Coming's Danalogue on production duties, London jazzers Lunch Money Life produce their best studio work to date, finds Cal Cashin

London’s jazz scene is thriving like no other, the city has become its global hotbed. Young virtuosos from all over the capital are bending the genre in their own image to create brilliance, and the breadth on offer is only matched by the sheer variety. Bold free and spiritual jazz is in no short supply, whilst R&B and hip-hop influenced contemporary forms of the music are rife too.

Highlights this year have already come thick and fast already. Moses Boyd’s percussion hypnoses and Obongjayar collaborations on his debut album Dark Matter are a constant source of joy, Emma-Jean Thackray’s volatile Rain Dance EP is her best work yet, and Shabaka Hutchings’ transportative spiritual opus with his Shabaka and the Ancestors outfit is the latest masterwork in an already daunting discography.

Despite its rich musical offerings, however, London is the city where rehearsal space is perhaps at the world’s most sickening premium. Added to the cost of living and the price of rent, London is a very difficult place for artists to survive. Many bands try to tackle this in different ways, but perhaps none as novel as nu-jazz outliers Lunch Money Life.

In the band’s relative infancy, the group’s saxophone player, Spencer Martin, applied to be the organist in 50 churches across East London. Not only did Haggerston’s All Saints Church oblige, but were more than happy to let Martin use the space for his new band’s rehearsals. I guess you could call it a godsend.

Immersion Chamber is the product of long evenings spent making a whole lotta noise in god’s house. The sound of big, loud ideas, played by very adept players, echoing in a vast space. Produced by Danalogue, this debut album is Lunch Money Life’s best studio work to date. Trading in the dynamic snappiness of their 2019 Boiler Room set for something more complex, Immersion Chamber is a moody electronic jazz album, atmospheric and apocalyptic.

At the crux of Lunch Money Life’s sound comes muddy, dizzying drum machines, wistful guitars, and brass sounds that punch through the miasma. ‘Maddison Lee Outro’ sees a slowing metallic heartbeat brushed by muted trombone fanfare, whilst ‘Crewcut’ melds an end-of-days synth line worthy of the Blade Runner score with super playful guitar flourishes.

The band are at their best when the industrial electronic base of their sound works in direct contrast to the trombone and saxophone. ‘Truth Serum’ is the highlight in this respect; thick electronic layers topple over themselves, whilst at certain climaxes Sean Keating chimes in with occasional Slint-lifted licks on the guitar. Spencer and Jack Martin’s horns wheeze, as a righteous maelstrom of electronics reach their glitching climax.

Immersion Chamber is a varied and volatile debut, regularly swaying between the manic energy and joy of youth, and brooding anxiety and unease. Lunch Money Life bring something new to a London scene that has produced so many riches already, and this is a very accomplished first LP.