Exposé Online banner

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

by Mike Ohman, 1995-07-01:

Carousel Cover art

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.


by Rob Walker, 1995-07-01:

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.


Filed under: New releases , Issue 7 , 1995 releases

Related artist(s): Hugh Hopper, Patrice Meyer

More info

Latest news

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more

2017-09-06
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more

2017-08-22
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more

2017-07-27
Yestival Dates Beef up the Beat – Word reaches us that Dylan Howe (son of guitarist Steve Howe) will be joining Yes on their "Yestival" tour, drumming alongside longtime band member Alan White. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Pekka Pohjola - Five Reissues – For anyone not yet familiar with the name of Pekka Pohjola, he is a Finnish composer, bandleader, and bassist among bassists primarily, but also fluent on piano, synthesizer, and trumpet as well. He's...  (1995) » Read more

Carol Grimes, Uncle Dog & Sweet F.A. - Voiceprint 2000 Reissues – Upon the demise of Delivery (Phil Miller's quartet augmented by Janis Joplin stylized blues vocalist, Carol Grimes), Grimes moved off to join another blues-based, less improvisational group, Uncle...  (2001) » Read more

Lester Palocsay - Baby Data Drop – The music on this disc was originally recorded from 1984 to 1990. Nothing is provided in the way of musician credits, but judging from the sound of it, Palocsay worked on his own. Most of the tracks...  (2001) » Read more

Gary DiBenedetto - Twin Towers – Gary DiBenedetto is an electro-acoustic composer from New York and Twin Towers is his effort to present a compilation of radical and controversial sonic collages designed to imply political and social...  (2011) » Read more

Fra Fra Sound - Dya So – It’s a big world, and many people are free to move around it, so something like a “Dutch Afro-Caribbean” jazz band shouldn’t be too unexpected, I suppose. And given this...  (2011) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues