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Uroboro — A Story Like Fire
(Discus Music 163CD, 2023, 2CD / 2LP / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-11-17

A Story Like Fire Cover art

Uroboro, or Ouroborus, is an ancient symbol of a serpent eating its own tail, often interpreted as a symbol for eternal cyclic renewal or the cycle of life, death and rebirth, and was also adopted as a symbol in Gnosticism, Hermeticism, and in alchemy. In this case, Uroboro is a British quintet led by composer and saxophonist Keith Jafrate, a member of Army of Briars, Orfeo 5, The Argot Notes, Wolf Scarers, and several other ensembles, as well as being a regular on Martin Atcher’s recordings. A Story Like Fire is Uroboro’s debut release, a two disc set that contains about 140 minutes of music — add another 44 minutes of bonus tracks if one opts for the download — just a massive anount of music that a listener can easily get completely lost within. The album is comprised of two separate sessions, the first recorded at The Old Post Office Depot, Todmorden, on August 24th & 25th 2022 (comprising all of disc one), and the second recorded live at The Mill, Walsden, September 15th 2022. There is no duplication of material between the two discs, though the bonus tracks contain alternate takes that were recorded at the ‘other’ venue. It’s clear that long before they went in to record, they had an abundance of material to choose from, and they decided to choose everything! The other players in the quintet are Laura Cole (keyboards and piano), Anton Hunter (guitar, electronics), and Johnny Hunter (drums and percussion); for the set at Todmorden, the bassist is John Pope, and for the Walsden set, the bassist is Andy Champion. The group’s stock in trade is an expressive jazz style highlighted by the sax and piano, though every member of the group gets their turn in the spotlight across the album’s sixteen long cuts. There are a few tracks that feature spoken word parts by Jafrate, who also composes all of the material, though the compositions tend to be open to plenty of interpretation and improvisation by the group, much in the way that Soft Machine’s “Facelift” proceeded from a basic melody, and then caught fire in a number of different ways depending on the performance and players over the years. Perhaps I mention that because, even though the instrumentation is different, one might get a similar dreamy, immersive feeling from much of what Uroboro has on offer with their opening salvo. A superb album from beginning to end.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Uroboro

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