Different worlds have always collided in the sound of GoGo Penguin. The Manchester-based trio conjure richly atmospheric music that draws from their shared love of electronica, their grounding in classical conservatoires and jazz ensembles alongside indie bands, and a merging of acoustic and electronic techniques. Over the past few years, it has earned them rapturous responses all over the world—The New York Times highlighted them as one of the 12 best bands at SXSW 2017—and proved that they’re just as at home playing to muddy festival goers as jazz fans. A Humdrum Star builds on the heady momentum of its acclaimed predecessors—the 2014 Mercury Prize-nominated V2.0 and their 2016 Blue Note debut Man Made Object—and transports it to new realms.
“I think we felt even more liberated on this album—and I think there’s more of each of us on it,” says bassist Nick Blacka. Their latest material reveals both native turf and far-flung influences. They evoke the symbiotic flow between Nick, pianist Chris Illingworth, and drummer Rob Turner, as well as their seasoned relationship with producer and sound engineer Joe Reiser (credited as the “fourth member” of GGP, both on tour and in the studio) and co-producer Brendan Williams. As with previous albums, these tracks stemmed from a love of electronic music, whether collectively developed from “sketches” written by Rob on DJ/producer tech including Logic and Ableton, or composed on the bass or at the piano. That electro-acoustic tension pulses throughout the new album.
“We started with this idea of ‘inner and outer’, and opposing things that are essentially the same,” says Rob. “A lot of the textures and sounds do come from the electronic writing, but Brendan also wanted everything to be made as organically as possible.”
There is poetry and precision in GoGo Penguin’s new work and intimacy and vastness. Their titles tend to speak volumes, in tandem with their evocative instrumentals. They’d actually completed the new album’s track-listing before settling on the name for A Humdrum Star yet it captures a distinctive tone. It’s taken from a quote by American astrophysicist Carl Sagan from his 1980 TV series Cosmos: “Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.”
GOGO PENGUIN – US TOUR DATES
May 4 – Elsewhere – Brooklyn, NY
May 6 – The Hamilton – Washington DC
May 8 – Teragram Ballroom – Los Angeles, CA
May 9 – The Loft – San Diego, CA
June 7-10 – Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival – Manchester, TN