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Hummucide - Album Review: Tides

18 Aug 2023 // A review by Trevor Faville

Hummucide are a well established group of musicians originally based in Wellington (although now working round the world) “Heavy Jazz” is the way they describe their sound, and that's an accurate phrase- and a rather nifty one, too. Tides is the group's first full length album release and it's the result of an extensive and extended process of crafting and refining.

The two main composers in the group are Ben Stewart (keyboards) and Toby Leman (saxophone). They set up the musical contexts with real skill, creating frameworks that allow drummer Lennox Grootjans, bassists Hugo Olsen Smith and Zane Hawkins, vocalist Kat Little and guitarist Luca Sturny to make considerable - if not essential - contributions to an improvisatory yet cohesive musical landscape. The best of the Jazz groups always have a ‘greater than sum of the parts’ aspect to their sound, and Hummucide has a real awareness and understanding of the ways that an ensemble can develop this.

An initial listen reveals a wide range of instrumental textures, especially with the keyboards, which hark back to those early days of “jazz/rock” with the various Davis groups, Weather Report et all. What is apparent right away is the balance between sophisticated composition techniques and instrumental skill. Its engaging, intelligent music delivered with a thoroughly musical sensibility from all concerned. Just to focus on two key elements that demonstrate this, witness the group's collective and individual understanding of a) dynamics- both in individual phrasing and over a greater musical structures, and b) groove- especially apparent in odd time signatures.

Stand out moments are many, but consider these two:

The Moon is a compositional master class of how to utilise the musical elements in such a way as to inspire, encourage and support solo playing. Instead of just leaving gaps, The Moon is an example of a much more interesting way to feature musically sensitive drumming in a solo context. Lennox Grootjans work throughout is a real treat- intelligent, dynamic. assured and musically sensitive.

Torus works in a similar fashion this time, with vocalist Kat Little to the fore. They approaches the ‘voice as an instrument’ concept as an opportunity to deliver a real vocal tour de force. Listen carefully to the way them and the rest of the ensemble work together in the second half of the piece. The conversational approach to the dynamics means that the result is melodic work that is just extraordinary. Both of these pieces would be really something to see live.

Given the nature of the music, production and engineering need to retain a similar level of musical awareness, and credit goes to Lachlan Ferris, James Goldsmith and Will Borza for an intelligent production and mastering approach.

Tides is a very powerful collection of music. Hummucide show individual and collective playing of the highest calibre, enabled by a considered and intelligent compositional approach. The whole album rewards multiple listens, and one can't help but be very curious indeed about what to expect next from them.


About Hummucide

Born out of the thriving music scene in Te Aro, Wellington, Hummucide is a four-piece minimalist-rock-jazz group. From BadBadNotGood to Aphex Twin to Yussef Kamaal, their influences come from far and wide. Their goal is to get you dancing and feeling something special.

The band comprises of Toby Leman on saxophone (Dr. Reknaw, Revulva, General Vibe), Ben Stewart on keyboard and synths (Sky Canvas, Dr. Reknaw), Lennox Grootjans on drums (Dr. Reknaw) and Hugo Olsen-Smith on bass (O and the Mo, Evolving Wilds). They all started out at the prestigious Te Koki NZSM, before traveling their own musical roads and coming back together to form the Hummucide sound.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Hummucide


Year: 2023
Type: Album
Year: 2021
Type: EP
Year: 2020
Type: EP

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