Wrocław, Poland jazz group EABS has been making some of the most forward-thinking jazz music in years. I’ve been a fan since 2017’s masterpiece Repetitions (Letters to Krzysztof Komeda), an album I got on vinyl and also got signed at an intimate release party in Central London back then. I have had the pleasure of seeing them a few times live, including that night and a memorable one at the Total Refreshment Centre in Stoke Newington. Those who know, know. They have once again delivered, with the help of the Lahore, Pakistan instrumental quartet Jaubi. Their debut 2021 album Nafs at Peace is an evocative body of work that showcases the soul and breathtaking culture of Pakistan. Given the similarities in some Easter European rhythms throughout history even, heavily influenced by the Middle East, it makes sense for these two emerging artists to come together for an album, and boy is it breathtaking.
From the get-go, “Yesterday” sets the tone perfectly with a melancholic piano opening, before emotive wind instrumentation hits. It’s an incredibly poignant opening, one that includes controlled but free-flowing drumming that captures an intensity that would continue on the incredible “Judgement Day”, with its fast-paced drumming and the incredible rhythm, followed by an incredible solo that is intense and beautiful at the same time. It’s a profound moment on the album and it only gets better from here. “Whispers” is an incredible track, one of the standouts to me. With its eerie opening, the incredible tabla instrumentation, to the sarangi, it is an outstanding piece of music. The intensity it captures, with the growling bassline and infectious percussion throughout is just mesmeric. The Middle Eastern rhythms on “Strange Love” are infectious, with infectious wind instrumentation mixed with the sarangi dancing and singing its heart art through an intense composition that is just incredible from start to finish. The growling bassline and drumming make this sound dark and menacing too, reflecting the anger about social and political issues in Pakistan, but with a groove that is carried by EABS’ incredible musicianship. “People in Between” is playful with its incredible sax solo, and a steady groovy beat, with keys that add grandeur to the track. Another memorable moment on the album. “Raise Your Hands, Drop Your Guns” is an emotive track about what I imagine to be gun violence and general violence towards people that happens every day. The wind instrumentation adds melancholy, and the piano keys add depth to the music. “Tomorrow” is another moody and melodic track. With its emotive sarangi melodies, synths, and wind instrumentation, this track feels like a rebirth, especially with its incredible piano solo that completely takes over the second half of the track. “Madhuvanti” is a meditative track, with its hypnotic bassline, sarangi, and piano keys, as the bass grows louder and louder throughout, giving it an almost unbearable intensity. The tabla that comes in is incredible and adds an additional layer of rhythm and groove. A truly stunning track in every sense of the word. “Moon” has these haunting vocals with emphatic keys that add intensity to the track, while “Sun” picks the album up in the closer, with rhythmic and catchy drumming, a playful and optimistic melody, including sarangi melodies and piano keys, and later on a breathtaking saxophone solo that again, make this an ultimately powerful ending to a memorable album.
It’s rare to come across an album as spiritually intense as this, but yet again, with EABS and Jaubi’s talents collectively, why am I surprised. The energy they bring is full of anger, almost a cry for help in terms of the horrors that people in their communities face on a daily basis, but with a willingness to bring positive change to the world. Through music, they’re able to bring two cultures together and celebrate jazz music in such a deep, spiritual, and enlightening way. The energy just hits differently, and In Search of a Better Tomorrow is a powerful statement by two artists from completely different parts of the world, coming together and creating an absolute masterpiece. Go listen to the album below and don’t forget to support!
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