Bog Bodies: Bog Bodies – An exhilarating, soul-nourishing album

Sean Carpio, Robert Stillman and Anders Holst’s new release explores a vast and spreading sonic frontier

Bog Bodies
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Artist: Bog Bodies
Genre: Jazz
Label: Mic Records

The idea of genre may be hard to avoid for newspaper critics and those who arrange the shelves in record shops, but often the most interesting artists are those who fly past the genre nets.

The Irish drummer Sean Carpio has certainly proved himself a master of conventional jazz, but he has shown scant interest in resting on those particular laurels. Projects like Stella Maris, site-specific compositions for a series of Irish churches, and Drift, recorded on Sherkin Island with a windstruck aeolian harp, have revealed an artist of broad and restless vision, entirely untroubled by convention.

Bog Bodies, Carpio’s longstanding trio with the US saxophonist Robert Stillman and the Danish guitarist Anders Holst, may recall the great Paul Motian Trio in its instrumentation – and the gentle rubato of the opening track here shows they have that arrow in their quiver – but the resemblance is fleeting, and the album’s scorching, strip-the-paint-off-the-walls title track ushers in an altogether more abstract, liminal soundscape.

The follow-up to Sligo, their excellent 2015 debut, Bog Bodies is, in their own words, “a searching inquiry into the mythologies and magical undercurrents that knit together our existence in the information age”. Mysterious, numinous, unsettling, it is the sound of three liberated improvisers exploring a vast and spreading sonic frontier, but even at its most abstract the musicianship and the masterly control of texture and dynamics make Bog Bodies an exhilarating, soul-nourishing listen.

Cormac Larkin

Cormac Larkin

Cormac Larkin, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a musician, writer and director