GoGo Penguin

Hailing from Manchester, UK, acoustic-electronica trio GoGo Penguin are pianist Chris Illingworth, bassist Nick Blacka and drummer Rob Turner. Drawing on a heady brew of influences from Brian Eno, John Cage, Massive Attack and Aphex Twin to Manchester’s grey rain-streaked urban streets they create a brave new sound all their own. Defined by skittering break-beats, powerful sub-bass, telepathic interplay and a penchant for anthemic melody they create an emotionally rich palate for the listener that has seen them hailed as the most exciting new band to emerge from the UK in years.

It’s been an astonishing year for GoGo Penguin. Their last album, v2.0, ended up on the Mercury shortlist. They’ve been touring the world to increasingly large and absurdly enthusiastic audiences, at venues as diverse as Koko, Union Chapel and the Barbican in London; Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Festival in the south of France, La Vilette in Paris, Über Jazz in Hamburg and at Dimensions Festival in Croatia. A first foray to North America saw sold out shows across Canada and a double-standing ovation at the Rochester Jazz Festival in upstate New York. In October they provided a live soundtrack for Godfrey Reggio’s cult film Koyaanisqatsi at Manchester’s new arts centre Home; in November they collaborated with noted choreographer Lynn Page for a Gilles Peterson-curated night at the London Jazz Festival. And in the midst of all this they’ve signed a multi-album deal with Blue Note Records, the most famous jazz label on earth. It’s a signing that was triggered when Blue Note president Don Was heard v2.0. Just two days later he was in Hamburg to see the band play a barn-storming set at Über Jazz and everything flowed from there. Their new album is called Man Made Object. “That title is partly inspired by my fascination with ideas of robotics, transhumanism and human augmentation,” says pianist Chris Illingworth. The album, like its predecessor, was recorded at Giant Wafer residential studios in Mid-Wales, and completed at 80hz in Newton Heath, Manchester, with engineering and production by Joe Reiser and Brendan Williams. “Joe is a crucial part of the set up, both live and in the studio,” says bassist Nick Blacka. “He uses a ton of microphones on each of us to ensure that every sound is captured and manipulated. It’s quite different from the way in which a jazz trio would be mixed – a much heavier bass and more of a mid-range punch, to ensure that the tunes kick through.” Man Made Object is the band’s first recording in a prestigious three-album deal with Blue Note. It puts them in a tiny elite of Brits – one that includes Stan Tracey, Andy Sheppard, Orphy Robinson, Us3 and Van Morrison – to have signed to the world’s greatest jazz labels. By John Lewis