Drummers have a hard time of it. You’ve all heard the jokes: How do you know when a drummer is at the door? The knocking speeds up. Or alternatively: How do you know when a drummer is at the door? He doesn’t know when to come in.

It’s fair to say that, generally speaking, solo albums by drummers are only of interest to other drummers. That certainly isn’t the case with Cheating The Polygraph. Gavin Harrison drums with The Porcupine Tree and is currently one of three drummers in the latest incarnation of King Crimson. For Cheating The Polygraph , Harrison has taken eight Porcupine Tree tracks and reimagined them in a jazz big band style.

This is not big band jazz in the style of Glenn Miller however; think more like Frank Zappa’s Make A Jazz Noise Here album. In fact, the closest comparison I can make is with Andy Sheppard’s 1990 album Soft On The Inside. Harrison’s father was a professional trumpet player and so he was surrounded by the sound of brass from an early age. Working over a five year period with Porcupine Tree bassist Laurence Cottle, who arranged the pieces, Harrison has produced an album that succeeds entirely on it’s own merits. If, like me, you are entirely unfamiliar with the Porcupine Tree originals, you will still find this to be a deeply satisfying album.

Highlights include opening track what Happens Now? which builds on seemingly random short brass stabs, reminiscent of the opening pulses of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians, moving to a complex polyrhythmic crescendo. Hatesong (halo) provides a network of marimba and bass guitar patterns for the brass and drums to weave their way through.

Cheating The Polygraph is an album for both fans of modern jazz and lovers of adventurous rock. Highly recommended.

Cheating The Polygraph is available now on kscope.

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