CD Review: Jack Magnet Science, Future Forecast.

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It’s not that often these days, given the amount of music I receive, that album arrives that compels me to hit the repeat button time and time again. Such was the case when Jakob Magnússon’s brainchild, “Future Forecast,” first hit my speakers, with a new album from a project dubbed “Jack Magnet Science.” The press release piqued my curiosity, describing the ensemble as a fusion of US jazz titans Peter Erskine and Matthew Garrison, alongside renowned Icelandic musicians.

As the album unfolded, it became evident that “Future Forecast” was more than just a collection of songs; it was a conceptual odyssey that echoed the spirit of Miles Davis’ groundbreaking “Bitches Brew.” Much like Davis’ iconic album, this album was born from hours of uninhibited jamming sessions in the studio, then later meticulously edited and sculpted into a cohesive final product. This daring approach, while risky, yielded spectacular results, showcasing a remarkable consistency that seamlessly wove together virtuosic performances and creative technological explorations. The album’s sonic tapestry is a true fusion, blending solid grooves with immersive soundscapes that transport the listener to realms where boundaries cease to exist.

To fully appreciate “Future Forecast,” it’s essential to delve into the album’s genesis, a tale that spans continents and cultures. As mentioned above, Jack Magnet Science is an amalgamation of forces with at its core members of the prolific Icelandic band Stuðmenn, which Magnússon co-founded, along with Peter Erskine and bassist Matthew Garrison known for his work with Shapeshifter and  The Zawinul Syndicate.

In the autumn of 2022, the sessions took place at Floki Studios, nestled in the remote reaches of Northern Iceland. The premise for the recording sessions was deceptively simple: “Let’s play and see what happens.” With this open-ended approach, the musicians embarked on a three-day improvisation marathon, allowing the music to organically unfold and take shape.

The sessions began with an initial groove laid down by Garrison and Erskine. Magnússon and Gunnarsson then added their impactful melodic and harmonic contributions, serving the music as it evolved. While a few charts were initially used as starting points, they were soon abandoned, with the exception of one, as the musicians embraced the spirit of spontaneity. Over the course of those three days, the ensemble created an astonishing 72 tracks of improvised music, each one a unique sonic exploration in its own right. As Magnússon recounted, “Someone would call out a chord or figure, and off they went. We all had open minds, determined to just allow new adventures to happen.”

The impact of this collaborative process was profound, fostering a mutual sense of admiration among the musicians. Erskine, for instance, remarked on the tasteful playing of the Icelandic keyboardists, while also praising vocalist Ragga’s phrasing, likening it to the legendary Wayne Shorter and describing the experience as the most pleasurable he had ever had working with a female vocalist.

Once the initial improvisation phase was complete, the real work began. Magnússon and the ensemble spent months meticulously editing and crafting the final album, titled “Future Forecast” – a double entendre that nodded to both Magnússon’s environmental work background and the band’s vision of pushing the boundaries of contemporary music.

From the 72 improvised tracks, seven brand-new compositions emerged, each one a sonic tapestry woven from the collective’s improvisational threads. Overdubs were added until the ensemble was satisfied with the results, and the tracks were then sent to New York for mixing by Daniel Goodwyn. Finally, the album was mastered in Los Angeles by the renowned “synth kingpin” Scott Kinsey.

While “Future Forecast” was born from a one-off gathering, Magnússon has ambitions to tour with the ensemble and continue exploring the wealth of material captured during those improvisation sessions, with plans for additional recording sessions in the future.

The press release that accompanied this album made it clear that for the members of Jack Magnet Science, the experience at Floki Studios was not just a creative experience but also one that was highly inspiring. Erskine reflected in a radio interview shortly after the sessions, “This musical experience reignited my passion for creating and recording new music.”

In conclusion, Jakob Magnússon’s “Future Forecast” with Jack Magnet Science is an exceptional album that deserves high praise and recommendation. As I stated earlier, given the sheer volume of music I receive weekly, it’s is a rare occurrence when an album demands repeated listening, and “Future Forecast” achieves this feat.

The album’s genesis, born from uninhibited jamming sessions followed by meticulous editing, has yielded a remarkably consistent and cohesive final product. This fusion of performance based freedom and creative technological exploration has seamlessly blended solid groove with immersive soundscapes, has resulted in an album that defies preconceived boundaries yet is full accessible to all listeners.

The collaborative process behind “Future Forecast” fostered a recording that in my opinion is a profound statement and with Magnússon’s ambition to tour with Jack Magnet Science and continue exploring the wealth of material captured during the sessions, I’ll be looking out for the tour dates and will be aiming for a front row seat. Without a doubt, “Future Forecast” stands as an example of the power of collaboration, improvisation, and artistic exploration however it’s more than this alone, it’s a sonic tapestry inviting listeners to imagine the future of inventive music, for that reason, this album comes highly recommended.

Jack Magnet Science’s debut album “Future Forecast” will be released worldwide on all platforms via Floki Studios on June 8, 2024, coinciding with the group’s live debut performance at Reykjavik’s Harpa Concert Hall. The ensemble has also been selected as one of the key attractions at the highly regarded Reykjavik Art Festival.

Jack Magnet, Keyboards | Matthew Garrison, Bass | Peter Erskine, Drums | Eythor Gunnarsson, Keyboards | Siggi Baldursson, percussion | Einar Scheving, percussion | Ragga, Vocals | Disa, Vocals | Phil Doyle, Saxophone | Gudmundur Petursson, Guitar

Track Listing:
1. Wild Card | 2. Space Pasadena | 3. Dreams of Delphi | 4. Extra Polation | 5. ITSYAMO | 6. ReAct! | 7. RupTures

Release Date: 8 June 2024 (CD & LP available on 19 July 2024)
Format: CD | LP | Streaming
Label: Floki Studios

Last modified: June 9, 2024