Plan 12 From Bristol

The Holy Church of Jazz (Foundation) take melodious-ambient tune-filled avant-garde chillout-jazz rhythmic-beauty sequenced-mayhem pop-quiz noise-terror to a new level in harmoniously unpremeditated aurally fascinating timeless songs.

By Mitchell Armudge Freemore III

In the barren desert which has come to symbolise the musical atmosphere of the Western world, an oasis of beauty and light has appeared. Stemming originally from South Africa but settled in Bristol in the West of England, Nik Makepeace and Alex Payne are The Holy Church of Jazz (Foundation).

A backlash against the new wave of New Wave, the mod revival and the sanitised dance music of the mid 1990's, THCOJ(F) set out to revolutionise the musical landscape. They create a blend of subtle nuances and in-your-face rhythms, combining the sequenced backgrounds with a broad palette of live instrumentation. Recorded thus far only on home equipment, the added atmosphere inherent in 4-track home recordings such as Flying Saucer Attack and I Don't Think He's Quite..., can only enhance the music. the fact that the music has been recorded on an enhanced 2-track tape machine gives it a live edge which the studios would like to get their hands on.

Nik himself sees the combination of the music and the recording quality as essential to the inner rhythms and the implicated harmonies of the sound. He comments that, "the lack of high-quality recording equipment can only add to the enjoyment of the music, both for us, and for the listener. We certainly enjoy creating it far more when limited by the tape machine we have; it forces us to use more imaginative recording techniques which help, in their own way, to create the music itself. Taken the context of other home recordings, or even some studio work, you can hear that we have created a clearer soundstage. The clarity of the music should be enough to break through any mental barriers the listener may have erected."

The Holy Church of Jazz (Foundation) have certainly created a mood within their music which can only be described as blissful. As the sound washes over you, you can feel a smoky atmosphere, a crowded bar and in the background, the soft murmur of innumerable distant voices. As the tunes follow each other in a sensual warm flow, there's more. You can feel the sunlight on your face, and a gentle breeze blowing over your vodka martini as you relax beside the shore, warm waves lapping at your toes. In its darker moments you can feel the soft roar of thunder over distant rainforests, and the purest sounds of individual raindrops. Alex simply comments that they're "attempting to create a different world within the music." The world would certainly be a better place if there were more bands as this one.

Encapsulated - even imprisoned - within these delicate soundscapes are the tunes. The tunes, which even when taking a back seat to the atmosphere, still manage to permeate the consciousness, keep the toes tapping throughout. It's difficult, nigh on impossible, to describe the influences of such a band, but there are slight allusions to the laid-back, mellow tunes of the hip-hop/jazz crossovers of earlier Mo'Wax releases. Apart from these, the music is alone in its time. The rhythms are complicated, yet simple enough to grab hold of you and pin you down while the tunes wind their ways in and around the beat and background sound. It is a combination which is inaccessible to most people who decide one day to hook up a sequencer, and it's one of which Bristol should be very, very proud. The Holy Church of Jazz (Foundation) have created a thing of beauty, which will be a source of please for very many people for a very long time.

Copyright David B. French, 1996.