Luminaries of West Coast Jazz + Indie Music Scenes Join Forces for New Quintet SML

Photo by Joyce Kim
May 15 2024

Rubber Tree Dance
Herbie for Commericals
Search Bar Hi Hat
Window Sill Song
Switchboard Operations
Soft Sand
Three Over Steel
Chasing Brain
History of Communication
Feed The Birds
Greg’s Melody
Dolphin Language

“Industry” is out now, buy/stream it here.

Small Medium Large is out June 28, preorder it here.

Today, International Anthem announces the June 28 release of Small Medium Largethe debut album from SML, a new quintet composed of luminaries from Los Angeles’s thriving jazz, improvised, and indie music scenes: bassist Anna Butterss (Jason Isbell, Phoebe Bridgers, Makaya McCraven, Daniel Villarreal), synthesist Jeremiah Chiu (Ariel Kalma, Marta Sofia Honer, Icy Demons), saxophonist Josh Johnson (Meshell Ndegeocello, Leon Bridges, Carlos Niño), percussionist Booker Stardrum (Amirtha Kidambi, Lisel, Lee Ranaldo, Patrick Shiroishi) and guitarist Gregory Uhlmann (Sam Wilkes, Meg Duffy, Perfume Genius). Preorder Small Medium Large here.

Created via chopping and reassembling spontaneous compositions recorded live during two separate two-night stands at the beloved, now-shuttered LA venue ETA, Small Medium Large is a sublime assemblage of circulatory grooves and textural anomalies bewitched by swirls of modular synthesis. At different moments it recalls the kosmiche musik experiments of Can, the rhythmic revelry of Fela Kuti, the low-end elasticity of Parliament-Funkadelic, or the glitchy dub techno of Pole. Taken in totality, the album captures a euphoric creative synchronicity between some of 2024’s most exciting musicians.

Accompanying today’s album announcement is lead single “Industry,” a chugging proto-trance banger that builds from a gurgling synthesizer loop into a menacing breakbeat groove. Playing against a funky industrial drum machine churn that’s one part Public Image Ltd., one part Battles, and several parts Herbie Hancock‘s Sextant, distorted saxophone leads and shards of guitar lend a vicious and judicious sheen of cosmic chaos. Listen to “Industry” here.

Small Medium Large was engineered and recorded in stereo direct to Nagra by Bryce Gonzales and compiled, arranged, and edited with additional production, recording, and studio composition by SML across their various home studios.

ETA — which closed its doors at the end of 2023 — is perhaps best known outside of LA for Jeff Parker’s 2022 album Mondays at the Enfield Tennis Academy. The Highland Park venue was the perfect location for the start of SML, especially given that both bassist Anna Butterss and saxophonist Josh Johnson are part of Parker’s quartet that held down a regular gig at ETA since the venue’s early days, as documented on Parker’s album.

While editing, chopping, and rearranging stereo mixed improvisations is hardly a new idea (Makaya McCraven’s output on International Anthem serves as a potent modern example), Small Medium Large reflects a stunning expansion of the Teo Macero / Miles Davis editing concept explored on classics like In a Silent WayOn The Corner, and Get Up With It. Stylistically though, these recordings have more in common with the proto-trance repetitions of Harmonia, and with Holgar Czukay’s re-assembly technique used in his work with Can. Throw in a supremely intuitive utilization of polyrhythmic floating patterns (a la Susumu Yokota), and the result is a truly innovative take on time-clocked electronic rhythms augmented with live instrumentation that never loses an elusive human sway.

SML will celebrate the release of Small Medium Large with a pair of FREE release events at Zebulon in Los Angeles, slated for July 8 and 9. More info for July 8 here, and July 9 here.