"Once in a blue moon, a debut album makes it obvious the band in question is exceptional. Thirty seconds into Sequoia, the opening track of Lund Quartet, it is clear this is one such album. Immediately, the listener is drawn into an economic soundscape of piano, bass and drums overlaid with sampled trumpets, which help make it a compelling piece. Lund Quartet is Simon Adcock on piano and theremin, double bassist Rob Childs, drummer Sam Muscat, and Jake Wittlin on turntables. They are from Bristol and have been together five years. In 2010, they rented out an industrial unit in a car mechanic’s yard and built their own studio, using equipment obtained from skips and friends. Their music is put together in a similar way to that studio – mixing, matching and borrowing from friends and others. Owing much to jazz, particularly the sparseness of Scandinavian jazz, it has as clear a debt to the ambient music of Eno as it does to trip-hop. Despite such roots, the end results are unmistakably the quartet’s own. The trio of piano, bass and drums lays down a consistently solid foundation propelled by Muscat’s drumming, with occasional piano flourishes but no prolonged solos. As a piano trio, they would be good if unremarkable. The addition of the samples from Wittlin makes the music unpredictable, fresh and varied, transforming it into something more special. Mostly, those samples are from friends of the group, seven of whom are credited with playing wind instruments or slide guitar. As the credit acknowledges, those friends were “recorded, chopped and scratched”. Whatever the actual process, their instruments are integrated into the music, frequently sounding as if they were playing with the trio in real time. Just as skilfully, on Love’s Madness a sample of the great South African vocalist Miriam Makeba joins the trio, sounding like she is singing along with them; only the occasional bit of trickery gives the game away. As with any successful recipe, the key is using excellent ingredients and combining them correctly. And Lund Quartet do so perfectly."
(extract) "A quartet of jazz players, including a self-taught pianist and turntablist, may conjure images of house bands in boutique hotel cocktail bars, but Lund Quartet have a secret weapon: discretion. Avoiding both "whacka-whacka" scratching pratfalls and over-fussy noodling, they create something more akin to an ambient experiment than a head-nodding hipster love-in. The key lies in the way the music follows the groove, most often the first part that's written, rather than it having to work beneath parping solos, rather like '60s Norman Jay favourite The John Cameron Quartet. Opener Sequoia winds like a sun dappled forest path, the snake-hipped Love's Madness shimmies around a Mirium Makeba sample, and the pensive, hesitant closing track Zill Bell drifts through ambient Eno territory..."
The Wire Magazine
(extract) "A half-Norwegian multi-instrumentalist from Bristol, Simon Adcock’s piano quartet debut indeed has a chilly Scandinavian feel. If this is jazz, it’s de-cluttered, minimal and atmospheric, with an Enoesque approach to melody. But what gives Lund Quartet their edge is the dislocation of turntablism: those trombones and vocals are spun in courtesy of Jake Wittlin‘s vinyl decks. One of the best tracks is ‘Kulde‘: the piano floats over a bed of bass, drums, distant radio and Adcock’s theremin, while splashes of trumpet and clarinet are tossed from the turntable. Adcock’s violin even contributes a string section. Free from soloing as such, each element is marshalled in a team effortto create their seductive overall sound..."
(extract) "Combining the raw urban energy of the vibrant Bristol scene with European aesthetics, Lund Quartet explodes in your ear drums like a bouillabaisse of Harold Budd, Portico Quartet, Arve Henriksen and Portishead. It's a mixture that's delicate, dark and industrial.... Lund Quartet again show that the UK scene is bubbling with creative talent from every direction of the isle. This is an album that I can't stop from its infinite loop. Highly, Highly Recommended!"
(extract) "This is the perfect album review to finish the year off with – hypnotising, entrancing jazz tinged with hip hop and electronica – ideal for dark evenings and a glass of something strong. This type of genre-melding can go horribly wrong but these four chaps from Bristol have made such a good job of it it’s surprising that they’re not more famous than they are." ... "Each of the 7 tracks, between 4 and 9 minutes long, are never self-indulgent, nor are they in any way quirky. This is simply beautiful jazz music with a modern twist: ‘Kulde’ is reminiscent of the smoky clubs of Ben Webster’s time; ‘Love’s Madness’ has scratch vocals over a mesmerising piano riff; and the closing track, ‘Zill Bell’ takes such an unhurried, minimalist approach that when it finally builds to a close it is like waking from some sublime dream. This is an extremely accomplished album that will be your friend right the way through the cold winter nights..."
Access All Areas
(extract) "Having done some research, I find that Lund Quartet’s slick self-titled release is in actual fact their debut, which I am rather surprised by, given the level of accomplishment that simply oozes off it. This is smooth jazz, but not quite as we know it: for beneath the masterful piano, bass and drums, the rest is a seamless use of turntablism: although credit is due to the musicians sampled, the brass, the vocals, and all the other trappings are provided by one single turntablist, who provides an entire orchestra of sound with which to back the three highly-skilled conventional jazz musicians, to produce an evocative, delectable mix of mellowness, grooves, and sheer enjoyable musicianship..."
(extract) "About a year ago I was pointed in the direction of a band that a friend thought I would like. A young jazz outfit here in Bristol called Lund Quartet, who were apparently rather good. Being slightly sceptical, which is a bad habit of mine, I checked them out. I found a track on Youtube called “Sequoia” and dutifully clicked the play button. I don’t know what I was expecting, but whatever it was, it wasn’t this. A sparse piano driven groove that built up gently with double bass and drums combining to form an understated toe-tapping beauty that I really was not prepared for. It was so simple, but yet it was perfect; subtle and compelling in a way that was not pretentious or overreaching, or anything like that. Then the riff broke down, and suddenly a guy on a turntable was cutting in the most haunting and perfect trumpet lines. He was using his decks as an actual instrument in the band. This may not seem like such a big deal, surely loads of bands utilise decks in their act and recordings, but this is really just like an instrument, a lead one. Not only that, it was played with steadfast reserve and to my ears emitted some real feeling through the cut up trumpet phrases he was playing with. How many acts with turntables achieve that? I later learned that most of the sounds used on the turntables are specially recorded by the band and are mainly local musicians whom the band know. I think this is cool, and possibly unique..."
(extract) "It's easy to hear the so-called 'Bristol sound' in Lund Quartet's music. From the 1990s onwards, their hometown became famous for mixing hip hop with dub reggae, stirring up the rhythms that eventually became trip hop and drum 'n' bass. Lund Quartet extend the same basic idea by augmenting a melodic Scandinavian-influenced piano trio with loose grooves and Jake Wittlin's subtle turntablism, manipulating specially recorded snatches of some of their Bristolian musician chums playing horns and guitar. The result is a little like Tord Gustavsen being haunted by ghostly fragments of brass and muttered voices..."