After self-releasing The 140 Mixtape and the Curriculum Vitae full-length in 2007 and 2009 respectively, Long Live the Jazz is Swindle's first label album, and it shows him at his surest, most stylistically steady mode yet. After releasing, at times, various strains of urban-influenced dance music, from the glitter-heeled UK funky and melodious broken-beat of his Who Said Funk EP, to his expert grime production for MCs and crews including Roll Deep, Mz. Bratt, and Badness, the South Londoner has settled into a brightly embellished, jazz-inflected style of dubstep. Long Live the Jazz is being released on Mala's Deep Medi label, an imprint known for offering true quality; this LP does nothing to sully its reputation.
"Long Live the Jazz (intro)" opens the proceedings with a statement of intent, as Swindle dives into a writhing, squawking two minutes of grappled double bass, hoarse saxophone, and sturdy, swung clatter. It's an unusually full, multi-instrumental, and, yes, jazzy, example of how a dubstep rhythm can still be twisted into brilliant new shapes in the right hands.
This album may focus on dubstep in favor of some of the other rhythmic styles that Swindle has previously experimented with, but one of the producer's strengths is still his wide-ranging palette of influences. "Forest Funk" reformulates the live wiring of jump-up drum & bass into a pulsing, high-saturation dubstep rhythm; it's all gunpowder snares and deep, shuddering bass, with a nod to Benga's best work, albeit with some fretboard noodling thrown in. The inclusion of drum & bass elements is quite original, and the tactic is employed again on the coarse, jabbing "Kick It."
The album also nods to the so-called "purple" dubstep sound, the style made popular by the Bristol trio of Joker, Gemmy, and Guido a few years ago. Some of that movement's flamboyant tropes, such as P-funk-esque vocoders, lewd vibrato, and glistening, colorful synth chords make appearances on Long Live the Jazz. The most effective of these moments is "Keep Me Warm," which marries those motifs with car-ignition bass snarls and filtered drum rhythms.
In truth, color is in happy abundance throughout Long Live The Jazz's 13 songs, perhaps most notably in the pleasingly bright, disco-light skank of "Running Cold," which features the vocals of Terri Walker. (The London-based singer has previously voiced T Williams' landmark "Heartbeat," amongst other things.) Another definite standout is "Ignition," with its mad, amazingly executed mix of vintage wobbles and lazer-stabbing trance synths, not to mention the song's terse, dangerous verses, which come courtesy of Newham Generals' legendary grime man Footsie.
All this restless, irrepressible funk imbues Long Live The Jazz with a sense of cooly agile hyperactivity. Full of whimsy and exuberance, the LP avoids the potential pitfalls of approaching dubstep in a jazz-centric way, and ultimately offers an well-executed effort that's both diverse and fun.