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BADBADNOTGOOD Talk Memory XL Recordings


A decade ago, BADBADNOTGOOD were the enfants terribles of contemporary jazz. They went viral when Tyler, the Creator tweeted out their Odd Future medley, then followed it up with an album on which drummer Alex Sowinski – who liked to perform in a pig mask – snarled that Giant Steps by John Coltrane was “fucking boring”.

A lot has changed since then. Co-founder Matthew Tavares has departed the line-up, while saxophonist Leland Whitty has become a permanent member. The Canadian ensemble might still have a knack for viral fortune (Vano3000’s rework of Time Moves Slow was a TikTok trend this year), but on Talk Memory, they seem less concerned with relevance than ever.

The album crashes into life with Signal from the Noise, mingling elements of new age, free jazz and prog rock around a Chester Hansen bass solo that sounds like thunder clapping over distant mountains. Laraaji’s soothing electric zither on Unfolding (Momentum 73) allows the tempo to cool, before the record finds its pace within the sumptuous atmospherics of Arthur Verocai’s string arrangements on Beside April and Love Proceeding. Taken together, these tracks possess the feel of a film score.

Fans of earlier hits like Lavender or Time Moves Slow may feel disappointed with the absence of pop hooks. It’s understandable: at times, Talk Memory feels a little polite, but in its own way, this album stays true to the outsider spirit that made BBNG exciting in the first place.