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IAN SIMMONDS
Return To X
K7095CD
Studio K7 2001
09 Tracks. 58mins56secs

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Jazz has made a vigorous come back over the last ten years, as dance artists started exhuming influences ranging from Miles Davis to Herbie Hancock. The likes of St Germain, Nightmares On Wax or the whole of the acid jazz scene have all borrowed multiple elements of the genre, modernising them, adapting them to their needs. As part of the Sandals, in the mid nineties, Ian Simmonds explored these themes, and still does to this day.
After the demise of his band, Simmonds resurfaced in 1999, with Last States Of Nature, his first solo album. A year later, he released The Hill, under his Juryman alias. Return To X continues his journey into jazz, dub and electronica, and sees him ingurgitating cinematic influences as well. The work of John Barry insinuates itself at regular intervals along the album, and faces the listener from the first measures of Fathomís Down. Building on a syncopated beat and an omnipresent bass, which forms the blueprint for the rest of the album, Simmonds adds a melody played on a harpsichord. This incongruent marriage, reminiscent of the theme for TV series The Persuaders, if disconcerting at first, gives the track an unusual feel of desuetude. Swingin Millie, Ocean Hill and Jet all work along the same line, with various success. If Swingin Millie is very groovy, it is too similar to Fathomís Down to really differentiate itself enough. Ocean Hill and Jet benefit of a more radical sound, which helps the tracks making a more enduring impact. No Bamboo, one of the best moments of Return To X, sees Simmonds adopting a more purely electronic approach, and the track evokes some of Black Dogís work circa Bytes. The man canít keep away from his abstract be-bop for long though, and Alvinís Blues is another instant of pure bliss. Although the track doesnít evolves much, the groove is overwhelmingly exciting. The rest of the album more or less navigates between these extremes, introducing some surprising moments, as in the rather upbeat Body Sound, where a piano underlines the infernal beat structure before the album comes to an end.
Ian Simmonds has developed a very personal sound since Last States Of Nature, and create, with Return To X, an interesting, if sometimes too linear, record.

3/5

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TRACKLIST

Fathom's Down
Swingin Millie
No Bamboo
Alvin's Blues
Ocean Hill
Jet
Blues For V.C.
The Manta
Body Sound

IAN SIMMONDS Discography
THE SURFER'S GUIDE TO IAN SIMMONDS
Studio K7
Juryman
Crammed Discs / SSR
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