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Loka - Fire Shepherds

Loka, Fire Shepherds

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

KARL Webb and Mark Kyriacou, aka Loka, may hail from Liverpool but their music contains a distinctly Hollywood vibe, circa 1970.

Fire Shepherds seems to be taking its cue from the sort of Lalo Schiffrin soundtracks of the Dirty Harry era, thanks to its retro mix of jazzy, soul and symbols.

The duo are signed to the Ninja Tune label and first made their debut on Ninja’s Xen Cuts compilation in 2000, before releasing their first single in 2004.

Two years on and here’s the album which, by Ninja’s own admission, sounds like Miles Davis jamming with Carl Craig and the Kronos Quartet.

The album gets off in suitably impressive fashion with a sinister piano chord followed by some emotive, creepy strings that unfold into a laidback, beat-laden slice of jazzy hip-hop. The track is called Safe Self Tester and it is one of the undoubted highlights.

The funky vibe continues with Meet Dad, an altogether breezier affair that continues with the jazz overtones, as well as tossing in some teasing stabs of flute and some scuzzy guitar lines.

Airfling is definitely cinematic in scope, emerging as the sort of mood music you might find as Harry Callaghan follows a suspect in a Dirty Harry movie.

Occasionally, the album mis-steps into experimental territory, as though caught up in its own hazy satisfaction – Fredda Mae being a prime example of a track that gets lost in its own pretensions.

But Tabernacle parts one and two bring the album back to a solid finale and ensure that the laidback jazz vibe remains intact until the final seconds.

The result is a good album that never quite manages to leap into greatness. It’s good to kick back with, especially if you’re a nu-jazz enthusiast with an eye on hip new music-makers, but as competent as things remain throughout, there remains the suspicion that Loka’s best work is still to come.

Track Listing:

  1. Safe Self Tester
  2. Meet Dad
  3. Airfling
  4. Freda Mae
  5. Beginningless
  6. Tabernacle
  7. Tabernacle
  8. Beginningless
  9. Safe Self Tester