Grievous Bodily Calm


Grievous Bodily Calm (GBC) has shown that an entire album of instrumental music can be accessible and a pleasure to the ears.

It’s common for performers in the jazz genre to show off their technical ability. The result is often challenging music that’s easy to ignore; full of stuffy ambition and a variety of instruments all vying to be heard.

Repel, the group’s first studio effort is a stunning display by an ensemble of well practised musicians who have patiently thought through the sounds, the structure, and the journey for the listener. GBC professes that Repel is meant to convey “emotion over intellectualism” and it clearly shows.

Album opener Repel grumbles into a fantastic float through an interstellar atmosphere before setting our ears down into some distant, unknown planet.

We’ve landed, so let’s take a look around. Footwork struts with confidence as we explore this new terrain. GBC – the third track and the band’s namesake – has us depart wherever we were for the next leg of our tour. All aboard, because there’s apparently much more to see.

From here we are blasted off into track four: Alchemise. This is truly a shining moment for the band. Wonderful horn compositions weave and bob around the rhythmic movement to form a delightful melody before dropping us off in a cave punctuated by trap beat high-hat pulses. Have we stumbled upon some dark corner of another unknown civilization?

Pastel Clouds has us feeling safe again as we race away from the last bars of Alchemise. We are leaving the atmosphere, spiralling at hyperspeed through space, and have found a suitable cruising altitude.

With Tremble Dance and Inner Firmament, GBC continue to display a remarkable ability to fuse segments of guitar noodling, horn eruptions, percussion accents, and keystroke emphasis, sprinkled with flecks of dissonance without being unpleasant to our ears.

GBC has fashioned Repel to nudge us into odd encounters throughout each composition, but safely bring us back to a warm embrace, before being propelled out into our next adventure. If this is music for a new frontier, perhaps GBC can help us be more optimistic about the future.