This is the first Vampires opus to feel more like a destination than a journey. That destination still has multifarious influences, but you sense a band that has moved beyond trying to be something, and is now a project allowing the four members fully to express their individual musicality within the shared love of reggae, Afro-beat and jazz. Three texturally and polyrhythmically intriguing percussion interludes from Alex Masso set this new tone of the band being more at ease in its own skin, so when the multi-tracking, electric bass and dub devices arrive, they seem natural; inevitable, even.
The music remains rhythmically vibrant throughout, as on Jeremy Rose’s evocative The View from Fez, which is followed by the skimming jazz of Liberty?, carrying faint (and thrilling) echoes of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Bassist Alex Boneham contributes as a composer for the first time, including the lushly textured, hypnotic West Mass., with Rose’s bass clarinet and Nick Garbett’s muted trumpet spiraling airily around each other over a backdrop that includes Rose on piano. Not only is the composing and improvising exceptional, it’s the Vampires’ best-recorded album, too.