From the moment lead-off track "Traure" transforms from Afrobeat funk to Celtic jam, it's clear that Life Is a Gong Show isn't your standard jazz LP. The debut LP from Songs of Tales works hard resisting (and then brazenly encompassing) every genre you'd expect to hear from these four accomplished instrumentalists.
Composed of guitarist Gordon Grdina, saxophonist Petr Cancura, violinist Jesse Zubot and drummer Jean Martin (the latter two of Tanya Tagaq's band), Songs of Tales obscure the lines between shapeless and structured music across 49 minutes and 11 tracks.
As each musician rotates between a handful of instruments (with a robust focus on synth and electronics), tracks like the free jazz "Awake" and the motorized "Non Fiction" freely move between moods and modes. From the skeletal experiments of "Cluster" to the smooth cowpoke of "Sun Sets in the West", what makes Life Is a Gong Show such an engrossing listen is how Songs of Tales never rely on the novelty of their sounds — they're much too engrossed with making something so sonically sundry come off so lifelike. (Roots2Boot Recordings)