Review / Neonnoone – Noir & Jazz & Dark & Slow…

Noir & Jazz & Dark & Slow… is the debut album from Miami-based quintet NEONNOONE; six instrumental compositions that make for a cinematic journey through an ageless America. The group describe their sound as “doom-jazz”, a mingling of jazz, post-rock and dark ambient.

Saxophonist Elijah Shiffer sums up the record perfectly saying that he “like[s] to think of this music as a soundtrack for a non-existent film – if you’re listening you can imagine it in your head.” An apt description, for the music invokes such a disparate blend of thematic elements that a visual counterpart is almost impossible to imagine; it is a soundtrack not so much for a film but for a stream of consciousness. Shiffer’s emphatic and heavily reverbed sax sparking images of a 1980s night-time cruise by Miami Beach; the intimate and raw musicianship inviting you to a sweaty 1950s jazz club in New York or San Francisco; and the ambient country jangles of Kolin Zein’s guitars brings to mind not a scene of a dusty American Frontier saloon, but rather a Western-themed bar situated atop a high-rise overlooking an irradiated landscape.

The release was recorded by industry veteran Martin Bisi at BC Studios in Brooklyn, which he founded in 1981 with Brian Eno and Bill Laswell. Bisi too has worked with a huge list of artists – among them are Sonic Youth, Herbie Hancock, Afrika Bambaataa, John Zorn, Swans, Unsane, JG Thirlwell (Foetus), The Dresden Dolls and Whitney Houston. In his own words, Bisi “understood that jazz can be a psychedelic experience from listening to late 60’s/early 70’s progressive jazz” and there are throughout the compositions the occasional avant-jazz tangents reminiscent of Soft Machine or some of their Canterbury prog scene contemporaries. 

Noir & Jazz & Dark & Slow… is more than a 21st century jazz record. It is an engaging and perplexing pastiche of influences, styles and periods; at times a daydream of speculative Americana; anachronistic, sometimes displaced, always intriguing; cohesive in its ambiguity.

Noir & Jazz & Dark & Slow… is out now via the NEONNOONE Bandcamp page and can be ordered here.

Words: Rory Hughes

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