Even the latest album of the Manchester-based trio does not indulge in the kind of jazz you hear on every corner, although the trio steadfastly refuses to be categorized in this music category. But even if you follow that and instead speak of a GoGo Penguin category of their own, there is enough proximity to jazz, and also to minimalist classical music, to place what the trio delivers into these conventional categories. This is also unreservedly true for the recently released third studio album, which is titled with the band name. In the end, the trio is much more relaxed about the categories of their music, as their keyboardist Chris Illingworth, with the agreement of his trio mates Rob Turner on drums and Nick Blacka on double bass, puts it in a nutshell: "We are the trio on the festival stage that wants to get everyone dancing: "There are people who are totally crazy, and then there are normal people again, who are there with their family and dancing with their kids. Old people, young people and everything in between. That is the most important thing for us. What kind of music is that? We let people call it what they want."
The new album is also characterized by a good portion of minimalism from the music to the recording technique, which mainly uses some reverb and more or less delay. You can't miss the fact that the trio recorded a new soundtrack last year for Koyaanisqatsi, which was originally supported by minimalist Philip Glass. The trio has taken over the endless repetition of short melody snippets from Glass, but does so much less stringently, but also not as narrow-mindedly as the famous model, allowing for variations of all kinds, from instrumentation to blanking out the constantly repeating flow of melodies. All in all, this is much more exciting to listen to than Glass, as long as one is not sworn to his strict repetitive approach.
A disadvantage of Philip Glass' repetitive approach in the modified form of the trio is that, unlike Glass' compositions, the music almost never comes to rest. Rather, there is a continuous, almost uninterrupted rush forward, which creates a strong dose of restlessness that one first has to endure. But that was no different with the earlier albums, having finally become a brand.
The trio found the production of this album inspiring, which took months and months to produce and allowed for some refinement of the original ideas. Rob Turner puts it in a nutshell: "In the past, we had to record an album in three days in the studio. This time we had six months to write and two weeks to record, so everyone had a lot more time to contribute to each track. There was more experimentation, trying things out - and often discarding them. As a result, this album is more sophisticated."
It's admirable how precisely the melodies, characterized by long repetition, are dynamically charged by the drums, artfully intertwined by the pianist and the bassist and varied just in time before boredom can arise. With their highly original style, the trio succeeds in keeping the listener on tenterhooks throughout the album, unless the listener doesn't really feel at home in the GoGo Penguin-created, Phillip Glass inspired world of eternal repetition.