Binker and Moses Feed the Machine

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“We don’t like boring music,” saxophonist Binker Golding says. “Our way of bringing excitement is by using energy. It’s just what we do … lean into it.”

(Photo: Dan Medhurst)

British duo Binker and Moses are pushing the fold with their new album Feeding The Machine (Gearbox), their first studio record since the spiritually informed Journey To The Mountain Of Forever (Gearbox) in 2017.

The pair emerged as a duo after being touring members of vocalist Zara McFarlane’s band. Their electric synergy was first evident on 2015’s Dem Ones (Gearbox) — an album where the grit of a sweating, urban London is almost tangible. It led them to receiving the “Best Jazz Act” Award from the MOBO (Music of Black Origin) Awards. McFarlane picked up the same trophy the year before.

“We don’t like boring music,” saxophonist Binker Golding says. “Our way of bringing excitement is by using energy. It’s just what we do … lean into it.”

What’s surprising — although, not for already-versed fans — is how two musicians can create such different sound worlds across each of their three records. It’s with their new offering that we hear a journey previously untraveled by the pair, inviting electronic musician Max Luthert to join them on a three-day recording session that would result in Feeding The Machine.

“Since we recorded our second album, we’ve been talking about making this one,” says drummer Moses Boyd, over coffee at London’s Vinyl Cafe. “The initial aim was to find [minimalism pioneer] Terry Riley. He’s a tape-loop god. That set the tone for what the album could be and during that time, I got into modular synthesizers.” After taking a sip of his drink, Boyd adds, “We knew we wanted to push the electronic envelope with the sound that we have — with tape loops, with glitchy shit. The pandemic gave us a lifeline in a way. We were both free to focus on it.”

Utilizing electronics is nothing new for Boyd. His 2020 solo debut album, Dark Matter (Exodus), is heavily led by synthesizers, field recordings and modern production techniques, an album that feels more at home in a sticky-floor nightclub than a traditional jazz setting. As for the duo, however — with the addition of Luthert — their electronic ambitions are at an all-time high.

“We managed to get three days scheduled at Real World Studios in Bath (England),” explains Boyd, referring to the studio of Peter Gabriel. “We didn’t go in with anything prepared or written down, just a sound-world idea. It stressed Max out completely.” Like Golding, Boyd shares a close friendship with Luthert. “I knew it would be cool. I asked Max to bring everything and not to worry.”

Most of the first day was spent rigging, but it didn’t hamper the end result: six tracks that, thanks to Grammy-winning producer Hugh Padgham’s live mixing, required minimal post-production.

“That’s testament to how well Hugh got it right, first time,” Golding says.

Golding beholds a striking vocabulary with his saxophone. On Feeding The Machine, he blows notes that are buttery one moment, hot and peppered the next.

“It was like doing a free-jazz gig for three days,” Golding explains, dressed in denim dungarees, a plaid shirt and red cap. He jokes that he’s dressed appropriately for his next Americana-tinged project.

“You turn up to the gig and there’s no preconceived idea,” he says. “We knew we’d be using modular instruments, but we didn’t know how that was going to sound. We chiseled things down and shaped things and eventually, tracks emerged.”

While Golding explains the process humbly, there is certainly nothing reserved about Feeding The Machine. Although they struggled to track down Riley, his influence can be heard in the album’s enigmatic soundscape, one that feels as though it has enough resonance to fill an abyss.

Golding’s looped and distorted saxophone creates an alluring sonic bed on “Accelerometer Overdose.”

It’s here that Boyd’s nuanced penchant for rhythm and timing shines, partly informed by his love of club culture. Boyd accessorizes Golding’s offerings before landing a dance-like drop three minutes in. Meanwhile, “Feed Intimate,” the first single from the album, offers more space for contemplation — but not without Boyd and Golding’s aforementioned excitement and energy.

The opening track, “Asynchronous Intervals,” could soundtrack an arrival into space; Luthert’s electronics put a transcendent coat around the drums and saxophone.

“A lot of people have called the album ‘Lonely and Binker,’” Boyd laughs, omitting his own name.

“Even though the tracks are a bit lonely [sounding],” says Golding, “they’re still intense. They drive forward.” It wouldn’t take Einstein to draw a line between the album’s aura and the enforced isolation brought on by the pandemic.

Boyd finished his own Dark Matter tour days before the U.K. entered its first lockdown.

“I had this period which I’d never had before, which was being able to sit still and think,” reflects Boyd, with a tone of optimism in his voice.

One could assume that the concept of Feeding The Machine is about the pressure to keep creating music, to stay visible, in a music scene that is both restricted and liberated by social media and consumption. But talking to Boyd and Golding puts this projection back in its box. They bestow melodies and rhythms from their saxophone and drums respectively into Luthert’s electronics, literally feeding their offerings to the cables and its master.

Recorded during the pandemic, there is a beautiful irony to Feeding The Machine. With so much time available to prepare — and over-prepare — Boyd and Golding avoided the temptation to obsess and plan more than they needed to. Instead, they remained purely in the moment.

“Not to say I was unintentional before, but now, my relationship with making music feels more intentional, more structured,” Golding says. “For me it’s about sustainability — doing it for art’s sake. Anything I’m doing now, I ask myself a million more ‘why?’ questions. I’m a different person.” DB



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On Sale Now
July 2022
Sean Jones
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