THE SCHMOOZENBERGS – Awaken (Schmusic Records SCHCD01)

AwakenThe Schmoozenbergs are essentially a Gypsy Jazz band who have recently released their second album Awaken – and it’s a gently lovely listen. The video below is the opening track on the album, ‘Cortisol Swing’. If you click through you’ll hear a track with various tune and tempo changes embellishing the main theme – and that’s also when you start to wonder how eight hands and twenty strings (bass, violin, two guitars – all acoustic) can be so accomplished.

Allow me a slight digression and I’ll return to the album directly in a paragraph. It’s been oft remarked that there is something different about having a twelve inch vinyl album, a stylish sleeve and photographs – a tactile, tangible difference in handling such an album – let alone the debate about analogue sound compared with digital reproduction of music. There is then something more solid, classy about the whole 12” experience. I mention this because I first listened to Awaken in the car – several times – and thought it was ‘OK’ but didn’t get a strong sense of the band and their music. Back home, however, on the hifi something much more ‘rounded’ came through. My experience then is that the better the sound system you have – just use it, sitting and listening will repay all the time you take out your day and give to the album.

That said, the tracks also make for a pretty good accompaniment to whatever else you may be doing. If you’ve listened to ‘Cortisol Swing’ it’s a good and representative introduction to the whole album. There are eleven tracks, of which I particularly like the slight eeriness at the beginning of ‘Charmed Snake’, the exuberance of the title track and the mingling of the multiple influences in ‘The Finale’.

As their website puts it “Conjuring up the mood of 1930s Paris, fused with flavours of Eastern Europe and the energy of a campfire jam session, The Schmoozenbergs’ uplifting music will put a smile on your face and a spring in your step”.

The band have a number of concerts from September 5th to the end of the year, mainly in Derbyshire and the south/south west of England.

Mike Wistow

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‘Cortisol Swing’ – official live video: