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Chris Bowden

Chris Bowden

Chris Bowden’s new CD, Slightly Askew (Ninja Tune), opens with the riotous “Only Angst,” a tune that sounds like the alto saxophonist is purging demons out of hell. It could be the soundtrack for a remake of The Exorcist. “It’s very self-indulgent,” says Bowden, who wails away on the track amidst booming brass and woodwinds, shrill strings, discordant samples and thundering drums. “The whole thing was written during the time when I was moving from London back to Birmingham. There were some unpleasant reasons why I moved. This record was a relief and very therapeutic.”

Except for the pastel orchestrations on “Crockers and Killers,” Slightly Askew differs greatly from Bowden’s critically acclaimed 1996 debut, Time Capsule (Soul Jazz). Both albums feature a 21-piece ensemble and his otherworldly compositions, but whereas Time Capsule evoked the space and tranquility of an Icelandic landscape, Slightly Askew sounds muggy and claustrophobic.

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