Album Appreciation: Feed The Machine by Binker and Moses

Very little has been released under the Binker and Moses moniker since the duo’s excellent 2017 album, ‘Journey to the Mountain of Forever’… a couple of live albums, making up for the lack of gigs in lockdown life… but, otherwise, nothing. That’s not to say that saxophonist Binker Goldling and drummer Moses Boyd have not been busy since then… playing on a multitude of albums in various bands… including their own. Indeed my last pre-lockdown gig was Boyd’s band… promoting the excellent 2020 LP ‘Dark Matter’; while Golding was also excelling himself with ‘Abstractions Of Reality Past And Incredible Feathers’, released the year before.

These experiences seem to have paid off, and Boyd has been reported as saying that they “needed some more experience under our belt to attempt a record like this”… and ’what a record like this’ this is… an incredible step forward for the duo; effectively a trio with the addition of the modular synths of Max Luthert, an electronic musician and composer who is providing the machine that Binker and Golding are feeding.

Before writing this I wanted to understand their process a bit more, and was very fortunate to have the opportunity to go and see them live and the newly reopened Band on the Wall in Manchester. What I saw there was what I would term a ’significant gig’… one in which I was not only able to marvel and the exemplary musicianship of both Boyd and Golding, but how Luthert was able to elevate it through his manipulation and repetition of their sounds in a genuinely exhilarating manner… adding both urgency and unpredictability to the music… integrating soundscapes which both augmented and fragmented the music… it was like free jazz squared, creative and novel.

…and that is what this album feels like. It feels next level for the duo, a set that has paid back their patience and hard work… and rewarded them for working with figures such as Luthert; as well as producer Hugh Padgham, and co-producer Darrel Sheinman… all of whom have help Binker and Moses realise their vision.

And what a vision it is, because this is the sort of contemporary jazz album that I have been hoping for for a while which is all the more remarkable because it came from a completely blank sheet when they started recording.

Nowhere is this more the case than on the final track of the album ’Because Because’, a version of which I remember particularly vividly from the gig. In both instances you can experience the process of Luthert taking, here particularly Golding’s, sounds and giving them whole new meanings and textures… of course this is not a new process, but the manner in which it is achieved is one that I find remarkable… the music moves me at such an incredibly deep level to the extent that I gave up on the ’process’ and just submitted myself to it… listen to ’Because Because’ and just let it happen to you.

This is only the final track of a set which bristles with invention throughout. First track ’Asynchronous Intervals’ is like an opening meditation with Golding’s sax riffed electronically by Luthert, while Boyd’s drums crash ominously underneath… it is liminal and otherworldly as it takes you off on a flight into the unknown… reaching some stunning crescendos towards the end of this ten minute plus odyssey.

After that ’Active-Multiple-Fetish-Overlord’ (great title) begins almost conventionally… although it is not long before the electronic treatment once again stretches the sinews and takes us off frequency into the badlands of the machine… deep in the sonic topography… well and truly off piste… a journey which continues with ’Accelerometer Overdose’ where we are once again lulled along with a mixture of disruptive playing and drones which, after a while, resolve themselves into a sense of momentum which feels fresh and exciting… man the way they build this track up is exceptional before loosening out again in the sort of fragmentation that stares over the panoply of chaos without actually falling in.

As the title might suggest, ’Feed Infinite’ is the track above all others that sets the album’s philosophy out from the start the most obviously, where the electronics come in before the instruments… from there it is another ride which takes you down unpredictable avenues where you get glimpses of different styles and ideas… it’s not incoherent by any means though as it continues to take you on this journey of discovery…

…and on to ’After The Machine Settles’ with it’s dystopian crackles and loops… we’re well out on our own now before Boyd’s drums kick in in a thrilling way and tunes us back in again… it is an incredible jolt which is atypical of the album in some ways, except that we should expect the unexpected… and with ’Because Because’ coming up afterwards… it really adds to the overall feel…

I know that it’s a bit too early to be sounding the ’Album of the Year’ klaxon, but it is about the same time of year that I did so for the Floating Points/ Pharoah Sanders/ LSO record last year, and that held firm… and I am certainly feeling the way I did/ do about this one… it is an album that feels like it was put together with such fluidity and raw creativity that I cannot help but think that it will stand out in years to come as something of a game changer… all I can say at the moment is to repeat what I said earlier… that this feels like the album I have been waiting for for some time… and that is very special!

‘Feeding the Machine’ is out now on Gearbox Records.



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