Slope Up Session Club is one of those loose musical entities that every city worth its salt musically can boast at least one of. A regular jam-night series begets a semi-formal, indie-scene supergroup, porous in terms of personnel, generally operating on a highly improvised jazz-funk axis with plenty of post-rock input. Tokyo is the kind of city that has any number of these, but the Slope Up bunch is worth special attention.
Three mononymic notables among the night/band’s recurring participants are Kim, of the debonair bass-loops and drums duo Uhnellys, Ruppa of the genuinely dangerous jazz-punk unit Kagero, and Tatsu of rambunctious ska band LÄ-PPISCH. Nobody’s a nobody here, not even Nozomi Nobody, a bespoke indie chanteuse by day, definitely doing something different here.
“We are free jazz all season, thank you” is the Slope Up motto, and it does take priority on this batch of live takes, though you’ll find they’ve made room for spoken word (“postman”), humorous gestures, and what has to be the fiercest punk song this reviewer has heard in a while, “repel virus”. The muscular “background”, a real workout, gets things rolling, followed by the sneaky “cookie”, deceptively directionless until it comes together on a powerful groove. There’s more room to breathe is “children are leaving”, and thus get a better sense of just how expressive these players are. One can’t say the same of “start the past”, the album’s one (long) disappointment, but then “salt and breakdown” ties up all loose ends with a hasty yet satisfying final volley of uninhibited euphoria.