Strobes – Brokespeak (2016)

A good jazz record is much like a David Lynch film, the complexity keeping you in a state of bewilderment but the substance compelling enough to retain your curiosity. It was clear from the outset that Strobes was to frequent the union inside the complex/compelling Venn diagram, as the band slowly released teaser tracks from what would be their debut Brokespeak. And it was clear that this album was not going to be a walk in the park.

Listening to Brokespeak in its entirety, it is clear that the band share a commitment to reassessing sound as we know it. This is self-evident in the opener ‘Winder’; the whirling melodies of Dan Nicholl’s keys, delivered with staccato precision, give the impression of demented ice cream truck jingles. Matt Calvert’s guitar riffs give a dark sense of grunt and Joshua Blackmore’s percussion is laden with odd meters and polyrhythmic madness. ‘Winder’ only introduces what becomes a kind of frenzied vaudevillian electronica, a speed-injected Squarepusher, the deformed lovechild of Boards Of Canada and Tigran Hamasyan.

Yes, Brokespeak is an inexplicably complex record. But its also a clever record, where wires are intentionally twisted, circuits are deliberately bent, and the compositional spectrum is scrupulously traversed. As its name implies, Brokespeak conveys a ‘broken’ dialect, a disjunctive and highly angular narrative that will take listeners many rotations to fully grasp. But there is enough beauty to this record that makes the repeated listens beguiling, powerful and aesthetically satisfying.

Brokespeak is the Mulholland Drive of jazz in 2016.

File Under

jazz, electronic, math rock, instrumental, disjunctive riffs, angular, ethereal

Sounds A Tad Like

Three Trapped Tigers, Squarepusher, apocalyptic madness


£7 digital, CD £7/LP £12 + shipping (Bandcamp)


London, UK