Ill Considered are a London-based quartet who seem to exist just a step or two to the left of the teeming, collaborative scene that’s been getting so much press the last year or two. Their members (Idris Rahman on tenor saxophone and bass clarinet; Leon Brichard on electric and upright basses; Emre Ramazanoglu on drums; Satin Singh on percussion) aren’t heard in any other contexts. Ill Considered are a unit, focused on their own mission.
Their self-titled debut release came out in September 2017, and was followed by Live at the Crypt two months later. Ill Considered 3 appeared in April 2018, along with Live at Total Refreshment Centre (apparently one of the key venues in London at the moment, as others have performed and recorded there as well). Live in Camden Town and Live in Nantes appeared in August and October 2018, respectively. The quartet’s next release was a surprise, but unfortunately An Ill Considered Christmas mostly lived up to its title.
Ill Considered 5 and Ill Considered 6 have just been released simultaneously, though there is still no sign of Ill Considered 4 (unless that was the Christmas album). The two discs add up to a total of 68 minutes of music, but it’s reasonable to split them up, as only 6 features guitarist Steve Ashmore. (It should be noted that the band credits artist Vincent De Boer, who does all their covers, with “Ink and Brushes,” thereby granting him official bandmember status.)
Ill Considered 5 starts off slowly; “Calling” lives up to its title. Brichard anchors the piece with a patient, meditative throb, as percussion and drums slowly filter in at the margins. Ramazanoglu’s playing gradually becomes more energetic, building up to a forceful beat, as Rahman’s long, reverberating lines float through the air. The album plays like a suite, each track taking energy from the one before and dragging it forward. “Incandescent Rage” takes echo-warped bass clarinet and impossibly deep, distorted bass and turns it into something almost Bill Laswell-esque, while “Unicorn” begins with nearly two minutes of long keening tones, eventually adding clattering desert percussion to the mix and stomping off, creating a sound thrillingly close to Sons of Kemet.
Ill Considered 6 is a more aggro album than 5. The songs are shorter, and there are more of them (nine tracks instead of seven). The meditative vibe has been replaced, on many pieces, by a taut energy, tempered with something almost like anger. The 56-second interlude “Waterfall” sounds more like an avalanche, with a massive blown-out beat and hoarse cries from the sax. When Ashmore shows up on the album’s second half, things get loud, even though he’s not doing much more at first than emitting shimmering clouds in the background. “I Didn’t” builds from slow and patient to noisy and screaming over the course of just under five minutes, reaching levels of intensity that will make you think, “How the hell did we get here?” before it stops.
Ill Considered are one of the most interesting groups on the consistently compelling London jazz scene, and these two albums are setting a bar that others will need to clear in 2019.