30 Seconds of Happiness
It's been a couple years of constant touring for Sydney trio Jigzag since their first release, The Offering in December '99. Travelling extensively throughout every state in Australia (with a full P.A. luggage & double bass & plenty of stops for Yoga stretches) the band has played every type of gig from small intimate acoustic house concerts & folk clubs to pubs, cafes, theatres, halls, corporate shows & every major folk festival in Australia. They mix acoustic folk/pop with heartfelt ballads & high octane Celtic & world instrumentals with a jazz/blues twist & their energetic live shows have inspired standing ovations at this year's Woodford & National folk festivals. As Revolver magazine states, 'When it ain't the good time rollicking music it's their stage antics'. In 1997 Greg Bryce (guitar/vocals) & Caroline Trengove (violin/vocals/percussion) met while working in a vegetarian restaurant in East Sydney. Inspired by the likes of Irish bands Lunasa & Kila the duo began playing jigs & reels in the Devonshire Street railway tunnel at Central station. Greg recalled 'We didn't have much time to catch the commuters attention so we played the liveliest, happiest tunes & all of a sudden the gold coins came rolling in. I think at that point we realised that we could have fun with music & also pay the rent.' Soon after they teamed up with Elisabeth Frencham (double bass/vocals). Although she began with folk, bluegrass & Celtic music, Liz has also completed a Jazz performance degree at the Sydney Conservatorium. Their considerable abilities as musicians & composers combine to create 'vivacious & youthful music' (Illawarra Folk Festival) & undeniably electric stage chemistry. A striking feature of the trio is their ability to combine the percussive qualities of their acoustic instruments in lieu of a drummer. This, teamed with their 'exceptional original material' (The Melbourne Age) & their lush 3-way vocal harmony, gives them a unique & full sound that belies the fact that there are only 3 people onstage. Jigzag have embraced the fully independent, self-funded ethic. The sale of several thousand of their first album has helped to fund their new full-length release '30 Seconds of Happiness'. It opens with the title track, which recounts the adventures of their busking days & moves into a sultry love song 'Man of Wood', that Liz composed for her double bass. The Celtic instrumentals are turned inside out with dynamic arrangements & occasionally break out into a bluesy improvisation before returning to the theme. 'Ordinary Mystery' is a song that inspires & reminds us of the beauty & magic of small things & everyday moments. 'Your House' is a dedication to the hospitality of friends & 'Love is Good' is exuberant bluegrass/pop. Jigzag are part of the hard-working new breed of independent acoustic musicians bringing a fresh alternative to the mainstream music industry. Accolades for their music: 'It takes a particular talent to remove the stitching of various musical cloth and thread together a tapestry that feels as if it's seamless and natural. Jigzag have that singular talent. This, their second album, is not easily classifiable, and nor should it be. The trio - of guitar, violin and double bass - blend acoustic folk, pop, Celtic, jazz and even country swing; these streams flow into a river that glistens on the surface with sunlight, yet has a musical and emotional depth to it. The album kicks off with the infectious joy of the title track, which was born from busking days in Sydney. Man of Wood a piece of jazz bravado, follows, written and sung by Liz Frencham, it shows the ease with which this trio can handle a change of direction. Interspersed with the originals are interpretations of Celtic instrumentals, including a melancholy and mood-riven version sung by Caroline Trengove of She Moved Through the Fair. The musicianship, whether ensemble or soloing (guitarist Greg Bryce's switch from one style to another mid-song is impressive) is of a constantly high level. The harmonies show a special chemistry, no more so than on Between the Darkness and the Deep, an achingly tender ballad. The coalescence of voices sends shivers down the spine, and there's no greater tribute to musicians than that they can make ring, like a spoon on a glass, a resonant chord within.' (****)Warwick McFadyen, The Sunday Age, Melbourne Australia 2002. 'If your taste is anything like mine, this CD will give you much more than the 30 seconds the title promises. I admit my bias - I flew to Sydney for the launch of this CD - and count these three musicians as among the most lovely and loving people I know. Liz Frencham (double bass, SASE bass & vocal), Caroline Trengove (violin, viola & vocal), & Greg Bryce (acoustic guitar & vocal) have been travelling along the courageous path of full-time music making together for over 3 years now, and this is their second CD. Starting out by playing 'Celtic and covers' in the Sydney pub scene, they've managed to wean their audiences onto a far richer mix of original songs & instrumentals - in a hybrid style that evokes the best of acoustic folk, jazz and pop - and imbuing it all with a flavor I call 'post-angst' music. These folks are not ashamed to be happy - or sad for that matter! On this album, the tune sets (Barefoot Bride; The Porch Set; and The Polka Machine) incorporate 3 tunes written by Caroline - and not being an instrumentalist myself, the best compliment I can pay these is that I had to check the sleeve notes to work out which were the originals. To my ears, the crisp, clear, rich & warm tones of their playing together creates a joyous blend that sets the toes tapping and the spirit rising. The songs are refreshingly listenable - this is a CD I can play at any hour of the day or night - and especially when my world needs brightening. From the outright frivolity of the title track and the bluegrass ditty Love is Good, to the slinky and satirical Man of Wood, these dudes know how to be silly. But then in the midst of this, comes some of the most illuminating and inspiring lyrics I have seen emerge from the Australian folk scene - Ordinary Mystery and Between the Darkness and the Deep stand out to me as tracks that could (in another less multinational world) be 'chart-toppers' (thanks be for independent releases.......). Technically, these three musicians are obviously dedicated and professional in their approach - and blessed with talent. Their instrumental dexterity is manifest - and their vocals are sure, sanguine and steady. Also impressive is the outstanding production & engineering, courtesy of Siiri Metsar of Melbourne. Siiri is the woman who has done a fantastic job of sound engineering in the Folklorica venue at Woodford, and has engineered recordings for Penelope Swales & our own Rebecca Wright. The CD also is beautifully designed & presented - luscious images & colours that presage the quality of the music within. One other thing before I stop gushing :-) This music is among the first I have seen emerge from the Australian folk scene that feels both connected to the traditions & yet daringly accessible to the 'general public'. JIGZAG have fans that range in age from 3 to 73 and beyond, and they offer us music that is filled with hope & faith and love. May they continue to prosper!' Maree Robertson, The Folk Rag, Brisbane Australia 2002 'Folk pop trio Jigzag love music. It comes through in the way they play, merrily strumming out a diverse collection of hip-swaying, foot-tapping ditties that evoke images of winter afternoons at the pub, days spent busking at Sydney's Central station and windswept, Celtic fields. 30 Seconds of Happiness is the groups second, wholly independent release. Carved out on the road during the last two years spent touring Australia's pub, cafe and festival scene, it's a lively mix of wailing harmonies and acoustic instrumentals that undoubtably go down a treat live. Jigzag make you want to grab your mates, find a pub,then sing along, badly, after too many ales. The album title is misleading. Folk lovers, especially, will find much happiness here.' Sally Heron, Rip It Up Magazine, Adelaide Australia 2002 'Snappy suburban tales from an acoustic three piece that impresses more than their relatively unheralded name would suggest. Loosely speaking, Jigzag are folky pop with splashes of jazzy minimalism thrown in for good measure. It's a nice blend of genres and voices, the twin female vocals of Caroline Trengove and Elisabeth Frencham sitting nicely in the mix, especially when in combination with guitarist and chief songwriter Greg Bryce. There's something strangely seductive about music of this nature -whether it be in the delicate strum of the acoustic instruments or the wonderful improv of the double bass. Tracks like The Polka-Machine and the beautiful instrumental The Barefoot Bride - with their wistful strings - have a bouncy jig feel to them, which may explain the name of the band. But does it excuse it's rather morose title? Hmmm... Regardless, on 30 Seconds of Happiness, Jigzag strike as a fun act with a strong sense of dynamics and perhaps a yearning to explore pastures further afield.' (***) Zolton Zavos, Revolver Magazine, Sydney Australia 2002 'A gorgeous CD, it really captures their 'live' energy. I was stuck in traffic in the rain today on the way to work with '30 Seconds of Happiness' up loud in the car CD player and I was the only person on the road smiling.' Steve Barnes, RTR FM, Perth Australia 2002.