In the many decades of jazz’s existence, the genre has been defined and redefined, crushed and rebuilt numerous times. In the same way, Eyot have been rebuilding and redefining themselves with every album. With their fourth record, Innate, they once again pick up the challenge and come off as victorious as ever!
RELEASE DATE: 20 February 2017 LABEL: Ninety & Nine Records
The album sets off with “Veer”. Dejan Ilijic, the pianist, seems to barely touch the keys, creating a mysterious, Middle Eastern-esque atmosphere. Then, everything suddenly crushes down with powerful guitar riffs and sublime drums. The entire band enters and the magic starts. Slowly building up with a clockwork-like rhythm section and lead instruments – guitar and piano –, “Veer” takes the listener on an incredible musical journey, which bursts with many colorful solos.
The musicians who form Eyot are deeply rooted in their jazz origins, but are simultaneously able to pay their homage to Serbian traditions, utilizing characteristic scales and sounds. However, music is not the only medium used by the band to express their pride. Song titles refer to, for example, an archeological site in Serbia, the Serbian god of thunder, or a beautiful Serbian flower.
The album is very coherent as a whole and the tracks are composed in a mature way. Eyot after all is nearing a decade of activity, therefore the musicians are not only veterans of their respective instruments, but also interlock with each other perfectly. Because of that, Eyot are able to craft incredible tracks with insanely odd time signatures – an instantly recognizable feature of their music. However, these are not the in-your-face type of compositions; even at its weirdest, Eyot stays subtle. The musicians don’t show off, they do what they think is right.
Composition and arrangement are, however, not the only factors that make a great album. One other factor is production, and Eyot absolutely reign in this field as well by getting Steve Albini to produce Innate. This legendary music industry personality is known for his engagement with lesser-known bands. He worked with artists like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Slint or Neurosis, but also with huge mainstream outfits like Nirvana, Pixies or PJ Harvey. His mastery can be heard on Eyot’s fourth effort – the tracks have been recorded in a way that expose their best parts. Listening to Innate, I’ve had an impression that the entire band is playing right next to me, which I think is the greatest achievement for both the producer and the musicians.
I remember being astonished by Eyot’s previous record Similarity. I wondered whether they could top it or even come close to their jazz fusion perfection. They absolutely did! Eyot managed to redefine their sound while staying true to their jazz and Serbian roots. They achieved the level of musicianship, which allows them to merge various inspirations (jazz, post-rock, ambient, and Serbian music to name a few) and come out with a beautiful and coherent album. I can only say that the band’s future is painted in very bright colors and I’m very excited for that!