GREG ISTOCK – Mr Greg Mr Jones (Blue Gate Records)

Mr Greg Mr JonesGreg Istock releases Mr Greg Mr Jones on May 3rd. Istock has a pedigree to match the best: band leader, singer, songwriter (all the tracks on this album), producer, arranger, self-taught multi-instrumentalist. He has worked in bands across all genres, co-created the sound of 3hattrio and now has this solo album to his name, on which he plays guitar, bass drum, keyboard, piano and organ – and, with the addition of his unique vocal, builds on the 3hattrio sound of American desert music which he helped to create.

The obvious influences on Mr Greg Mr Jones are jazz and reggae but that would be to minimise the range and class of this album. When I first came across 3hattrio’s Lord Of The Desert album, I suggested you should “Close the windows, turn off background sound, put headphones on if you want, and just lose yourself”. You could do the same with this album.

Istock merges his multiple influences into something quite special. There are twelve tracks on the album; technically they are all songs, in that there is a vocal – but if you’ve heard Istock previously you’ll know that his voice is an instrument in itself.

Perhaps the best way to describe this album is as music to be felt.

To shift genres, perhaps the most stirring piece of music-to-be-felt is the last three to five minutes of the 1812 Overture; at the opposite, chilled, end of the music-to-be-felt scale is most ambient music.  Mr Greg Mr Jones is towards the chilled end of this newly-invented scale. Although there are twelve tracks, the album feels more like a musical piece with different movements making up the whole; the video below is the opening track, ‘Here Comes The Man’, an easily accessible introduction. If you want to continue your introduction to Istock, listen to ‘Bus’ or to ‘Radar’.

But if you want to get to the heart of this music, if you want to get deeper into the feel, then play, say, ‘What The Hell’ or ‘How Can You Say That’, more extended pieces where you can hear Istock mingling vocal, keyboard and other instruments against solid beats – a late night chill despite the speedier rhythms.

Above all, listen to ‘Sugar’ with its seven minutes and forty-six seconds of extended play that would be at home in a late night jazz bar, or a nightclub (where they still exist), or a blues party (if they still happen) or (having seen 3hattrio play live) from the stage of a music venue, performed with all the skill of Istock’s many years as a professional musician of wide-ranging and rare expertise.

Istock doesn’t appear to have a separate webpage, so I’ve linked to 3hattrio as probably the best place to look should he tour Mr Greg Mr Jones. In the meantime this is an album that will be worth not just the fifty minutes of your time that it lasts but fifty minutes multiplied by however many times you have available to play it.

Mike Wistow

Artist’s website:

‘Here Comes The Man’:

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