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Last Ark Out - 2024 - "Lift"

(34:45; Last Ark Out)


TRACK LIST:                  

1. Brackish 5:02
2. Dyab 4:51
3. Late to the Game 3:54
4. Libra 6:52
5. Scorpio 5:10
6. Song Needs Title 5:03
7. It's That Dream Again 3:53


Arthur Pascau Smith - guitar
Jeff Gammon - bass
Justin Gorrie - saxophones, guitar
James Huumo - keyboard
Colin Parker - drums
Larnell Lewis - drums
Sasha Berliner - synthesizer
Sarah Thawer - drums
David Osei-Afrifa - keyboard
Hailey Niswanger - saxophone, clarinet, flute
Sarah Thawer - drums
Allison Au - saxophone

Prolusion. Canadian band Last Ark Out has been a going concern for a decade or thereabouts, releasing their debut EP back in 2015 and with two full length albums following in 2017 and 2024 respectively. The name of their most recent studio production is "Lift", an album that was self released by the band towards the end of February 2024.

Analysis. Last Ark Out is one of those bands that touch base with the progressive rock universe to a greater extent than actually being a part of it, with some compositions probably being closer to jazzrock in a progressive understanding of the style than anything else while others to my mind at least probably are more clearly defined cases of fusion and/or contemporary jazz. The common denominator throughout is that the material is instrumental, and that the songs have a tendency to be fairly different from one another on several key aspects. The floating and flowing keyboard dominated landscapes of opening song 'Brackish' is among the songs I'd categorize within a jazzrock tradition, with keyboard elements that at times gave me some subtle associations towards the symphonic part of the progressive rock legacy too. And while retaining a more distinct jazz orientation, a creation like 'Libra' did make me think about some of the material the late Robin Taylor crafted for his project Taylor's Universe some years back. And on 'Scorpio' we get some tasteful use of floating guitar textures of the kind that always gives me associations to early 80s King Crimson for some reason or other. On the jazzier side of things we also get songs that feature distinct grooves and a little bit of a playful funk underpinning, but also more delicate and arguably even romantic creations with the saxophone given a liberal part of the limelight for the passages and songs of the latter category. And all along, no matter what orientation or intensity the band have decided to explore, playful and expressive instrument details is the norm rather than the exception on this production, albeit with the members having a careful and subtle approach and execution of these rather than a more challenging and dramatic one. Tasteful is a word that fits this album very well, with elegant also being an appropriate expression to use. Delivered by a band that appears to be confident in their abilities, and well aware of what they have desired to achieve also in the mix and production department.

Conclusion. Last Ark Out and the album "Lift" isn't an obvious pick for the die hard progressive rock fan, as in my opinion at least this is a production with a stronger focus and emphasis on jazz than on a progressive oriented variety of jazzrock. But jazzrock fans that also tend to enjoy elegant and playful material with a firmer foundation inside the jazz universe should find this to be an interesting album I suspect. Especially those among that audience that has a preference for instrumental music.

Progmessor: February 2024
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Last Ark Out


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