Loka - Fire Shepherds
Loka are a Liverpudlian duo; their (wholly instrumental) debut album frequently sounds like it's being played by a jazz collective. Safe Self Tester could be the soundtrack to a 70s police thriller, eventually reaching a percussion rush which would fit nicely over a chase sequence. On Meet Dad, funky guitar stuff is laid over a relaxed groove. The downbeat Beginningless is what might happen were Mogwai to dabble in jazz. Tabernacle (both parts) has a lush, adrift feel. Yet all these tracks are so much more. Unfortunately for us critics, Fire Shepherds is the sort of record that words can't really do justice to, reminding one of the saying "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture".
This release on Ninja Tune follows hot on the heels of The Exchange Session Vol 1, Domino's excellent Kieran Hebden and Steve Reid collaboration. It is a brave move perhaps for these labels to be putting out what are essentially jazz albums. Fire Shepherds is, for better or worse (depending on your taste), the tighter, more accessible of the two. These tracks each have a template, but there's still plenty of room for the mind to wander.
Ninja Tune and Signals Media Arts are running a competition to find a video for each track on Fire Shepherds. The winning videos will be screened at Signals 2006 festival (October 10th - 15th), and an overall winner will scoop all sorts of fantastic goodies. First stage is to submit a synopsis - this need to be done by April 21st 2006. More details can be found at the link below, where you can also hear snippets of the tunes.