On their latest album, Days in the Desert, High Pulp demonstrate a remarkable evolution in their musical direction, offering a heady brew that will leave you intoxicated in the best possible way. Over the course of two albums this Seattle-based psychedelic jazz outfit have arrived at a cosmically comprehensive sound that stands distinctively amidst a genre often saturated with familiarity. While such a release typically lends itself to ambient background listening, Days in the Desert wants your attention and deserves it too.
The enigmatic opener ‘Slaw’ feels like an incantation of sorts, as the six-piece draw you into their mysterious world, one that feels very close to the same world Herbie Hancock explored on Sextant or of course Miles Davis on Bitches Brew. Yet the band is quick to find their own niche. The next track ‘Dirtmouth’ sees the band adopting a more angular rock sound into their sound, making for a really fresh cut. Following ‘Dirtmouth’, ‘Solanin’, which features Brandee Younger on harp, sounds at times like a Four Tet release. There are plenty of guest features from Jeff Parker to MonoNeon to Kurt Rosenwinkel, each adding to the kaleidoscopic variety of what is on offer here.
While Days in the Desert is undeniably an exploration of sonic potentialities, High Pulp doesn’t sacrifice coherence for the sake of experimentation. The album maintains a consistent atmospheric quality, creating a landscape that feels both as expansive and introspective as the Mojave. The production is exceptional, with each instrument and layer of sound given its own space to shine. The integration of electronic elements is particularly well-executed, adding a contemporary touch to the band’s traditional instrumentation without overpowering the organic essence of their music.
Still, there are moments where the eclecticism borders on overwhelming. Some tracks might require multiple listens to fully appreciate the nuances and complexities at play. However, this also adds to the album’s longevity, as repeated listens will undoubtedly reveal details that went unnoticed the first time round. One of the best things about Days in the Desert is it gets better the more you listen to it.