With each new release, the music of GoGo Penguin seems to climb to new heights in both scope and execution. Following their recent UK tour in which the Manchester-based trio played their own take on Philip Glass’s score of the cult classic time-lapse film, Koyaanisqatsi, A Humdrum Star is just as cinematic and visionary, with soaring melodies contrasting perfectly with driving beats and beguiling motifs.
Best appreciated in its entirety, A Humdrum Star deviates little from GoGo Penguin’s tried and tested formula, and this is far from a bad thing. There is perhaps a slight shift to a more organic sound, with Blacka’s double bass providing a grounding throughout. Laying down a tribalistic and almost hypnotic backbeat in ‘A Hundred Moons’, the double bass is also let loose with driving ostinatos in ‘Strid’ to Illingworth’s circling accompaniment.
Illingworth truly shines on this album, with his improvised solo lines blending seamlessly into pre-crafted melodies. Turner demonstrates his virtuosity on ‘Transient State’, with a constantly evolving drum part which has so many layers of polyphony one can only admire the musicality. All players have their moments in the spotlight, but crucially never outshine one another – it is this contribution to a greater whole which propels the album to new heights and has earned GoGo Penguin such an avid fanbase globally.
Officially classified as jazz, A Humdrum Star blends traditional jazz with classical, electronica, dance and minimalism in a truly unique way. Catchy melodic, harmonic and rhythmic hooks are enough to interest a casual listener, while the amount of subtle variation in each of the parts and the undeniable musicality of a band who play together so instinctively provides plenty of intrigue for even the most passionate music lover.