Ian Carr with Nucleus - Labyrinth
Labyrinth is dark, brooding, beat-heavy, melancholic mood music courtesy of Ian Carr and the Nucleus crew. A favorite of Madlib, it goes without saying that this is one magnificent record. Originally released on Vertigo in 1973, Labyrinth was never re-pressed and of course, those original copies are now very tricky to score. Like all the Nucleus records, it’s aged ridiculously well and this Be With reissue, re-mastered from the original analogue tapes, shows off just why this deserves to be back in press.
Genius trumpeter and visionary composer Ian Carr was one of the most respected British musicians of his era. He was a true pioneer and saw the potential in fusing the worlds of jazz with rock, just as Miles Davis and The Tony Williams Lifetime did in the US. In late 1969, following the demise of the Rendell-Carr quintet, and tiring of British jazz, Carr assembled the legendary Nucleus. Regarding music as a continuous process, Nucleus refused to “recognise rigid boundaries” and worked on delivering what they saw as a “total musical experience”. We can get behind that.
Under bandleader Carr, Nucleus existed as a fluid line-up of inventive, skilled musicians. This constant evolution and revolution was all part of the continuous musical exploration and discovery that took jazz to new levels. And the music has kept relevant. To steal a line from a recent review of our re-issue of Roots, when it comes to anything Nucleus “it’s basically already hip-hop”.
Labyrinth is presented as a suite, based on the ancient Greek legend of the Minotaur with musical instruments representing the various elements of the mythology. According to the LP’s original sleeve notes, the bass clarinet represents the tragic element, the trumpet represents the heroic element and the voice represents the human element. The rest of the musicians represent the two societies of Athens and Crete and their comments on the story as it unfolds.