16 Oct 2018
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Julian Temple Band - Album Review: Antarctica

12 Jun 2018 // A review by Alex Moulton

Frequently described as an alternative rock group, hailing from Dunedin, the Julian Temple Band like to blur the lines between genres; incorporating blues, jazz, surf rock, as well as indie pop into their music. The group have evolved over the years, over five studio albums since their formation in 2004, with Antarctica making it six studio albums.

Comparing it to the previous albums, you could be forgiven for thinking that Julian Temple’s vocal style is transitioning away from the smoother melodic vocals present in Upsidedownbackwards, with Antarctica’s opening track Hundred Year Storm showcasing the rough abrasive side of Temple’s vocals. This display of the West Coast Blues tongue that could be described as ‘John Mayer meets Joe Cocker’ is not representative of the album as a whole. While Temple’s style does involve many a grunt and gravelly vocal riff, he still predominantly uses the softer melodies and harmonies.

Antarctica is the first album, with the Julian Temple Band’s most current six-piece line-up, adding keyboardist Logan Hampton, bassist Steve 'Seedy' Marshall, and electric guitarist Richard Ley-Hamilton to the mix, adding further layers, textures, and instrumental combinations. Most notable is Hampton’s additions with some great looping pieces on the keys.

Antarctica has fewer tracks than its predecessor Ceiling In The Sky but has a longer average track length. It will be interesting to see whether this is trend continues as they experiment with longer song structures with varied sectional arrangements.

This release puts forward an intriguing mix of sounds. Vocally adventurous, with a wide array of instrumentation, exacerbated by the abilities of the keys, the focal point of the music varies from track to track; keys and drums are predominant on Recurrent, whereas Across The Valley obviously focuses on the funky guitar riffs, with some supplementary violin. The one thing that remains consistent throughout the album, is Julian Temple’s vocals, which strings together these otherwise widely differing songs. I would love to see more songs like closing track Satellite, which has the vocals toned down slightly, as the Temple’s volume does create a disconnect in many of the other songs, distracting from the soundscapes that have clearly been painstakingly arranged.

Often with a free-flowing, positive ambience, Antarctica feels like the soundtrack to someone’s spiritual journey, or vision quest, if you will; travelling through various near-alien environments, in various forms, feeling a range of emotions.

Without being able to pin down an exact category that this album fits, it’s very difficult to gauge the album. However, in the same way an unsure student picks their classes, Antarctica isn’t specialising in a niche, it spreads a wide net offering a little bit of everything, providing something to appeal to a number of moods and emotional states. 


Review written by Alex Moulton

 

About Julian Temple Band

Singer-songwriter Julian Temple was born into a diverse family of working musicians, with his mother, a dixie-land jazz pianist, and his father a classical lute player, giving him his first musical inspirations. Earliest memories include playing with toys and singing under his mother's antique grand piano as she vamped away to her original sheet music by the likes of Irving Berlin, Jelly Roll Morton, Rudy Vallee, Al Jolson and all the ragtime greats. The youngest of three, Temple taught himself the guitar at the age of 12 and immediately started writing his own material.

Fast forward to 2004 and Julian Temple Band formed in Dunedin by a group of keen music students attending the University of Otago. A far cry from dixie-land, the band employs a wide variety of contemporary musical styles including blues, jazz and rock and roll to communicate their curious vignettes on life, love, loss, addiction, environmentalism, and mental health. With an innate desire to share their love for music and "induce the jamboree", Julian Temple Band are known for their extreme touring habits and energetic live performances. Members include jazz and experimental drummer Paul McLennan-Kissel (Entire Alphabet, Onsombil), funk-rock-reggae bassist Steve 'Seedy' Marshall (Left Or Right), Doors-esque keyboardist Logan Hampton (Alizarin Lizard), classical and avant-garde violinist Alex Vaatstra (Ha The Unclear, Grawlixes, Matt Langley), indie electric guitarist Richard Ley-Hamilton (Males, Asta Rangu) and singer-songwriter-guitarist Julian Temple.

JTB have independently released six albums; In Sea (2006), Quiet Earth (2009), Balance Escapes (2010), Upsidedownbackwards (2012), Ceiling In The Sky (2015), and Antarctica (2018) and toured extensively through the U.S.A., Australia and New Zealand.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Julian Temple Band

Releases

Upsidedownbackwards
Year: 2013
Type: Album
Nowhere Fast
Year: 2011
Type: Album
Balance Escapes
Year: 2010
Type: Album
Quiet Earth
Year: 2009
Type: Album
In Sea
Year: 2006
Type: Album

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