Taxi Wars – Fever

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Taxi Wars – Fever

If I begin this review by mentioning that Taxi Wars are mainly the project of former dEUS frontman Tom Barman, then that will divide those of you reading it into two groups; those that have heard the Belgian alt. rock troupe and those that haven’t. If I begin it by saying that Fever is essentially a jazz album, then more or less everyone reading this will appreciate what the album is about. Actually listening to its ten tracks, I began to consider what are the most useful facts I can pull out to describe it, as I actually don’t know enough about dEUS to have an informed opinion as to how the album sits within the larger body of their work. I know what jazz sounds like though, and Fever is about as hard-edged, atmospheric and demandingly listenable as those two or three actual jazz records that are in my own album collection.

I should however more accurately say ‘jazz-influenced’ as the ten tracks on Fever are songs, instead of the free ranging instrumentals that almost all be-bop jazz tracks are. Taxi Wars keep their improvisations in the rehearsal studio, and develop these into spoken word and song tracks in recording. A quartet of Belgian musicians relocated to NY at various times over the preceding decade, and with some significant instrumental experience between them, they’ve made an album that is designed to crossover from the jazz cellars to the alt.rock stages. “We feel most at home at seriously alternative rock festivals,” says Tom Barman in the press release that accompanies Fever, and if their live set is anything like as lively as their recorded work, I’d recommend booking tent space at any event which Taxi Wars are scheduled to appear at.

Right from the seemingly chaotic frenzy of the opening title-track, through the less haphazard though no less tightly performed “Bridges”, the mood-inducingly laidback “Trash Metal Ballad” and ending with the bop mathematics of “Egyptian Nights”, Taxi Wars bring a consistently dynamic performance, one where a gravity-defying saxophone riff and a bewilderingly complicated drum part are the mainstays of the band sound. Fever will do much to maintain Taxi War’s already considerable reputation in the jazz world and if Tom Barman gets his way, make themselves known to a much wider audience.

Universal Music Belgium