Cobblestone Jazz, Traffic Jam EP


[Wagon Repair]

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After what seems like a lengthy hiatus (at the current release rate, two years in the house/techno 12″ market feels more like 10) and lukewarm reviews of their debut album, 23 Seconds, Cobblestone Jazz’s return makes no apologies for directness. The band’s penchant for improvisation is a driving force in their creative process and always features heavily in their live performances, but with the “Traffic Jam EP” there is less jazz spontaneity on display and more techno fundamentals at work. The trio makes use of programming assistance from occasional band partner, The Mole, from The Modern Deep Left Quartet. Where their previous collaboration resulted in raw house experimentalism, this EP doesn’t pussyfoot around.

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“Fiesta” fashions a steady groove of analogue elements including subtle acid pulsations, modular bass, and their trademark vocoder usage; in other words, the type of sounds these guys can manipulate in their sleep. However, it never fully takes off and ends up keeping the dance floor too much in mind in its trackiness. Maybe that’s The Mole’s influence at play, stretching the track out for maximum product at the DJs disposal, but I can’t help but feel that Cobblestone Jazz have done this before and done it better. “Traffic Jam,” on the other hand is a welcome counterbalance. Its bouncy rhythm composed of thumping kicks, a modulating, deep bass current, loose drum programming, and metallic percussion fills drives the track into heavy techno terrain. What elevates “Traffic Jam” beyond is the keyboard refrains emitted sporadically like hot charges coming out of Herbie Hancock’s Rhodes. This is techno-jazz fusion the way Cobblestone Jazz originally proposed. Let’s hope they continue down this path.

eric cloutier  on June 11, 2009 at 1:55 PM


let me know when they make another “5th element” and “b2.”

Simon  on June 11, 2009 at 5:14 PM

I’m not too familiar with their previous work but I have to say I love this 12″, really enjoy both tracks.

kuri  on June 12, 2009 at 11:42 AM

@ eric: “Fiesta” is a yawner, but I think “Traffic Jam” is on-point for the more techno-inclined. Maybe not living up to previous singles (“5th element” is a classic and is “Peace Offering”) but a move in the right direction.

@ simon: check out there back catalog. dope stuff to be had.

Peder  on June 19, 2009 at 2:07 PM

kinda feel like Cobblestone Jazz have been treading water for a while now. sounds very formulaic… i hate to be the whiny rock critic (or do i…) but i much preferred the earlier stuff… “fifth element” or “carl’s cream cone”, yeah!

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