Review: Pepa Päivinen + Good Romans – Ghost Of A Dog

Pepa Päivinen + Good Romans - Ghost Of A DogPepa Päivinen carries himself with a charm that I’m reluctant to trust. His initial blast of tenor saxophone is like a firm handshake; a demonstration of strength concealed within amiable gesture, swooping between notes like a sensual lounge jazz soloist while channelling a force that could crush me, easily. Good Romans simmer with the sounds of warning – drums rumbling like crockery during an earthquake, electronics bubbling with the early symptoms of chemical reaction – and surely it’s only so long before vicious intent start to poke gigantic holes through the smooth, improvisatory façade of cigar smoke and elegant dinner jackets. It’s Casino music; all sharp smiles and swift dress sense, all misdirection and passive spite.

“Melt The Mind” swings and doesn’t. Percussions slides across a marble floor, casting crooked shadows of plucked bass frequencies and catching rosy glints of woodwind vibrato. It’s calamitously slick. Meanwhile, the title track is a cascade of twinkling gongs and low drones that enact nervous sideways glances. At points it’s almost silent, albeit gloomily pregnant with the unsaid. Perhaps the closest the record gets to breaking loose is “Leave Bleeding”, where sneering ride cymbals alternate between daggered rimshot and feedback pouring in from the ceiling. Päivinen’s saxophone is gnashing wildly by this point, embarking on delirious monologues that have Good Romans scampering into the shadows, punching dents into the veil of faux-courtesy with a few raw, belly-born home truths.