Black Gold 360:
LM6iX , the third full-length by Beluga Recordings head Simon Sixsmith under the Black Gold 360 name, is pitched as a 'nasty jazz-meets-electronica' hybrid—in Sixsmith's own words, “If you don't like jazz you won't like it, if you don't like electronica you won't like it—but if you like either of these you might like it.” But, in truth, the balance tips more in the jazz direction, which hardly surprises when Sixsmith is joined by four of Holland's finest players on the recording's eleven tracks: Coen Kaldeway (sax, clarinet), Teus Nobel (trumpet, flugelhorn), Bob Roos (drums), and Lucas Dols (double bass). Robust blowing dominates the opening throwdown “I'm Spartacus,” after which “Superbia in Proelia,” with Nobel's blustery trumpet leading the charge, digs into a noirish blues, while a vibes theme intermittently injects a pensive moment or two along the way. In fact, much of the material is bluesy, with Dols' deep bass a stabilizing voice for the occasional wildness. Sixsmith, a producer from Manchester who's called Utrecht, Holland home for fifteen years, adds samples and electronic spice throughout: in “Angel of the North,” his harp strums and native chanting add an ethereal air that Kaldeway brings back to earth with a clarinet solo; protestations of “I love you” recur throughout “Three Word Poetry” and electronic fire singes the jazz-funk of “Jevski's House.” A heavy emphasis on bright percussive exotica and electric piano helps make “Sunspots” one of the set's more arresting pieces, and “Sleep Soft Under Shell-Fire” treads a more atmospheric line when clarinet and trumpet snake their way through a dense jungle of electronic sounds. And did we mention the entire album is available for free at the Beluga site?