Moves is their sixth release, and somewhat of a milestone. In addition to it being the octet's most psychedelic and arrestingly soulful release thus far, it's also their longest—their first, in fact, to cross into bonafide full-length territory. They're marking the occasion by joining the roster of Toronto favourite Telephone Explosion Records.
Touted as “innately personal” by DownBeat Magazine, Brodie West's unique vision has been nourished by a bafflingly diverse array of sources. Meeting the legendary Dutch drummer Han Bennink in 2000 at age 24 not only sparked an ongoing creative partnership (including two records), but also led him in a number of other fruitful directions. Bennink was the connection to exploratory punks The Ex, who brought West aboard for their collaboration with Ethiopian saxophonist Getatchew Mekurya, which produced recordings and tours worldwide.
Where the Brodie West Quintet (Astral Spirits, Ansible Editions) trades in clever jazz asymmetry and his duo Ways is a stark and focussed exploration of rhythm, Eucalyptus is where this eclecticism is most audible. The band simmers with polyrhythmic percussion, laid-back jazz sweetness, various strains of psychedelic wonk, and subtle tropical aromas from dub on “Rose Manor,” named after the retirement home of his musical grandmother Lorna (ever a source of inspiration for West) to Bossa Nova, as heard on “It's In A Move.” Its streaks of free-form bedlam and pure sonic texture keep listeners poised for perplexity and cheerful volatility.
Moves manages to approximate the playful, intoxicating warmth the band conjures in their beloved local live appearances. Eucalyptus has made a tradition out of mounting month-long residencies at Hirut, a cozy east-end eatery that serves delicious Ethiopian cuisine. Hirut even gets a nod in the credits. Perhaps it's because this record's subtle whimsy and inviting disarray draws so much from the spirit of those evenings.
A large part of this odd concoction