Exposé Online banner

Hugh Hopper Band — Carousel
(Cuneiform Rune 67, 1995, CD)

by Rob Walker, 1995-07-01:

Carousel Cover art

For the past decade bassist Hugh Hopper has played bandleader to a number of different lineups, all of which have been oriented primarily towards live gigs. Carousel finds him back in the studio with the latest incarnation of his band in an attempt to capture the energy and creativity of the group's live performances in a studio quality recording. It's obvious that this ensemble has played extensively together; there is a strong sense of unity and balance in their sound. The music is nominally in the fusion realm, but these tunes are much more varied and eclectic than that term usually implies, ranging from light playful pieces to free form improvisational mayhem. The band works marvelously well together; Hopper's versatile bass along with some solid and tasteful drumming provide a firm anchor for the melodic and improvisational explorations of the others. Saxophonist Frank Van Der Kooy gets perhaps the biggest share of the spotlight, contributing some strong tenor and soprano solos as well as a few unison lines with Hopper's fuzz bass, which briefly recall Hopper's Soft Machine days of old. Guitar and keyboards round out the sound. Overall, Carousel does an excellent job of showing off this ensemble's diverse sound and interactive prowess. Though two of the seven studio tracks were completely improvised, the cohesiveness of those performances would make the average listener think otherwise. Three live tunes from a 1993 gig are included here as well, perhaps as an incentive for impressed listeners to seek out the various live albums recorded by Hopper's group over the years. For anyone into improvisational and fusion style music, this is some solid and creative material.


by Mike Ohman, 1995-07-01:

Former Soft Machine bassist Hopper has pretty much kept a low profile throughout most of the 80s, so it's good to see him active again. His latest project is a band bearing his name, recorded in the Netherlands with Dutch musicians. Though not really a solo album, Carousel nonetheless finds him back on form. Though bearing Hopper's name, Carousel is very much a group album. Hopper composed only half of the album's ten tracks, and two others are group compositions. And while Hopper's bass does get some solo space, the instrumentation is pretty well balanced, with guitar and sax acting as fundamental sonic components. Stylistically the slant is steeply towards jazz, rock appearing evidently as an afterthought, centered principally in Hopper's fuzz-toned bass. The pieces range from tight latter-day fusion, to unrestrained free-form jazz, to at times an almost big-band sound (on the two tracks with trombonist Robert Jarvis). Hopper even pulls a piece from the archives, namely the old Isotope track "Sliding Dogs." Musically, the band still sounds a bit disjointed, but with work I feel that will improve. While not an unqualified success, it's good enough to expect exciting things from Hopper and company in the future. Keep an eye out.


Filed under: New releases , Issue 7 , 1995 releases

Related artist(s): Hugh Hopper, Patrice Meyer

More info

Latest news

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Kenziner - Timescape – Remember when a "shredding" guitar player was the exception? Seems you can't turn around these days without knocking one over. Kenziner is another one of these small-label guitar bands. The focus is...  (1999) » Read more

Bob Drake - The Skull Mailbox – Bob Drake may be a genius, but it is fair to say that, as far as the results of his craft go, he is more than a bit scatterbrained. The Skull Mailbox is chock full of ideas, often more than one for...  (2002) » Read more

Groundtruther - Longitude – The second installment of Charlie Hunter’s project with drummer Bobby Previte includes New York sampling wizard DJ Logic in the rotating performer chair for a set of twelve sonic groove...  (2006) » Read more

Biota - Object Holder – I must admit up front that Biota has been around a lot longer than I have been tuned in to their music. My introduction, less than two years ago, was an early LP titled Horde by the Mnemonists (same...  (1995) » Read more

Ash Ra Tempel - Schwingungen / Seven Up & Join Inn / Starring Rosi – Here we have domestic releases of the consummate Krautrock band’s early albums. Though not as quotable to neo-Kraut hipsters as Can, Faust, Kraftwerk and Neu! — Ash Ra Tempel were perhaps...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues