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Fracture

Fracture

Despite the attention lavished on Roller Trio’s lively eponymous debut, Fracture almost didn't happen at all. After extensively touring in 2012, the Mercury Prize survivors reluctantly took to crowd funding website Indiegogo, offering the usual bundles of t-shirts, signed albums, unreleased live recordings, and potentially awkward home performances in exchange for the means to record a new album.

Once again, it's the interplay between James Mainwaring's wandering saxophone and Luke Wynter's staccato guitar riffs that lead the show, with drummer Luke Reddin-Williams complementing the jazz-rock fusion with a deft touch more often than he dominates. Opener 'Reef Knot' shows off the trio's lounge jazz credentials before launching into a more upright affair, occasionally threatening to descend into cacophony before sax and guitar break discord to unite for the chorus. 'Low Tide', one minute and fourteen seconds of trebly, post rock guitar lines, provides a suitably atmospheric introduction to 'High Tea', by far the album's most radio-friendly moment, even as the single's Arabian riffs build up to a frenzy.

By the time we reach the uncompromising '2 Minutes to 12', featuring some of Mainwaring's most exploratory sax work to date, the band are cascading through ideas and time signatures at full throttle. It's an exhilarating experience, and you begin to wonder how they could possibly sustain it.

There are welcome moments of reprieve later on, with 'Tracer' and Wynter's particularly lovely 'Splinter' offering up some softer edges that almost stray into Portico territory. The album closes with 'Tightrope', a brooding meditation that marries the band's jazz roots to something closer to trip hop. The result is a melancholy and oddly muted finish to the album, belying the raucous jazz gymnastics that came before, but hinting at yet further new musical territory for the Leeds collective.

Matthew Neale

by Now Then Sheffield