Polar Bear – 'In Each and Every One' album review

The avant-jazz masters return with an exhausting but dazzlingly good fifth album



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Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

Jazz, post-jazz, punk, hip hop, experimental rock, funk, contemporary classical – London-based outfit Polar Bear continue to display a mindboggling range of sources on their fifth album ‘In Each and Every One’.

The Mercury-nominated ensemble have forged a reputation for being one of the most exciting groups on the scene, and the last decade has seen them continually push boundaries to remain at the forefront of jazz and improvised music. The band’s impressive line-up – Mark Lockheart and Pete Wareham on tenor sax, bassist Tom Herbert and electronic master Leafcutter John, all led by mega-haired drummer Seb Rochford – also represents the nucleus of a whole host of other exciting jazz crossover projects including Acoustic Ladyland, Sons Of Kemet and Wareham’s brilliant Melt Yourself Down.

‘In Each and Every One’, the long-awaited follow-up to Polar Bear’s excellent 2010 album ‘Peepers’, is an expansive record that covers the whole dynamic spectrum from delicate ambience to high-octane fuzz. For the first time, drummer Rochford has produced and mixed the entire album, emphasising rhythmic drive and space with pushing bass grooves, enthralling horn lines and propelling electronics.

Album highlight ‘Be Free’ is quintessential Polar Bear, and among their best work so far: saxophone motifs punctuate the grooving electronic beats whilst Rochford’s percussion rounds out the sound. Two-part suite ‘Lost in Death’ is also excellent, a pair of beautiful compositions that allows melodic sax lines to take centre stage.

Darker and more all-encompassing is ‘Life and Life’, which builds to an ear-splitting climax, while album closer ‘Sometimes’ is an effortlessly atmospheric track that travels through yet more ambient spaces, punctuated with machine beats and laced through with Rochford’s distinctive rhythms.

Although at times the sheer range of ‘In Each and Every One’ can make it an exhausting listen, the marvellous technical skill of the musicians – let alone the deep, sweaty grunge grooves, the excellent use of space and the unassuming cool that permeates throughout – makes it well worth the effort. A formidable addition to an already impressive legacy.

What do you think of ‘In Each and Every One’? Let us know in the comments box below or tweet us at @TimeOutMusic.

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Watch the video for 'Be Free'

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