“We’re a bunch of outsiders who refused to be kept out,” says High Pulp drummer Bobby Granfelt. “We’ve never had an academic approach to jazz—most of us grew up playing in DIY bands—so it was the rawness and the energy and the absolute freedom of the music that called to us in the first place.”
Indeed, there’s something defiant, something utterly liberating about High Pulp’s remarkable ANTI- Records debut, Pursuit of Ends. Drawing on punk rock, shoegaze, hip-hop, and electronic music, the band’s brand of experimental jazz is both vintage and futuristic all at once, hinting at times to everything from Miles Davis and Duke Ellington to Aphex Twin and My Bloody Valentine. The songs here balance meticulous composition with visceral spontaneity, and the performances are nothing short of virtuosic, fueled by raw, ecstatic horn runs ducking and weaving their way around thick bass lines and dizzying percussion. While the Seattle-based collective is centered around a crew of six core members, they also make judicious use of a broad network of collaborators on the album, wrangling special guests like sax star Jaleel Shaw (Roy Haynes, Mingus Big Band), harpist Brandee Younger (Ravi Coltrane, The Roots), GRAMMY-nominated trumpeter Theo Coker, and keyboardist Jacob Mann (Rufus Wainwright, Louis Cole) to help stretch the boundaries of their already-expansive sonic universe. The result is a lush, cinematic collection that’s as unpredictable as it is engrossing, an urgent, exhilarating instrumental album that manages to speak to the moment without uttering a single word.
“We were trying to distill how it felt to exist in the midst of all the chaos and confusion unfolding around us with these songs,” reflects Granfelt. “The music was our medicine.”
Music has been more than just medicine for High Pulp these past few years; it’s also been a source of community and meaning. Born out of a loose, weekly jam session hosted at Seattle’s historic Royal Room, the band came together the way a good heist crew might.