The simple explanation for Run Logan Run is that they are a saxophone player and a drummer who part-write, part-improvise their music. But that’s like saying the Large Hadron Collider at CERN is just a big ring that bangs protons together, the truth is that their music is every bit as likely to form a Higgs boson particle as CERN. Run Logan Run are saxophonist Andrew Neil Hayes and drummer Matt Brown (who picked up the sticks after an amicable parting of the ways with previous drummer Dan Johnson) and For A Brief Moment We Could Smell The Flowers is the first album with this new dynamic duo. The album’s name is taken from one of the anomalies of lockdown that due to the lack of traffic on the roads city-folk could suddenly hear birds and smell something other than exhaust fumes.
Run Logan Run take inspiration for their name from the dystopian sci-fi film Logan’s Run, and they play live wearing homemade bleached tops that reference uniforms worn by the Sandman characters in the film. Their name suggests movement and velocity, and this is borne out by their music. Andrew Neil Hayes is an extraordinary saxophone player who doesn’t just content himself with showing off his jazz scales but has built up a rig of FX pedals to turn the simplest trill or glissando run into anything from a bone-shaking sonic boom to grain silo reverberation that goes on for days. This allows him to create vapour trails of sounds that hang in the air only to be dissipated when more sounds punch through. Matt Brown on drums is equally extraordinary, part Buddy Rich and part Keith Moon, he can sit behind the tune offering up syncopated accents that swirl around the sax, sometimes parallel and sometimes as counterpoint, or he can summon the storm and command thunderous toms or rain down flash flood beats across the whole kit.
The sound on For A Brief Moment We Could Smell The Flowers truly captures the power of the band as I remember them from playing live and it’s produced by the band and musician, composer and producer Riaan Vosloo who also guests on the album adding bass guitar, synths and generally stirring the sonic pot. Run Logan Run can warp space and time with their music, as on tracks like ‘Screaming With The Lights On’ or ‘Wise Man Eames’, or offer up a slow space-samba as with ‘A Brief Moment’ which morphs into a low-end drum and sax tango. Most tracks start by developing a theme, an unfolding exploration of notes and beats before arriving at a momentous destination that could be a waterfall, a subterranean cave or outer space. Some tracks are full tilt explorations of how far they can stretch jazz before atonality comes calling and other are almost playful like ‘It’s About Ice Cream’. You can hear how their extensive rehearsing during lockdown brought about their near-telepathic ability to communicate musically. Neil Hayes says:
“The first two months were spent improvising for hours at a time. Occasionally one of us would bring something along that we’d written in our own time as a starting point, but predominantly we’d start from scratch together until we stumbled on a riff or an idea we liked. Then we’d keep pushing and pulling it around until it developed into a track. In this way, the musical conversation that takes place between a duo is very intimate.”
Run Logan Run are a force to be reckoned with and if you check out the video below I hope you will find the sheer force of their playing as compelling as I did from the first time I saw them live. They are monolithic, sonically hypnotic, relentlessly infectious and watching them play is like watching twin Prospero’s summoning the weather. The band wanted the album to reflect what Hayes calls the “collective moment” we all experienced due to COVID-19 which was “…definitely ugly, but it was also definitely beautiful”. Somehow they have managed to pull that off and create an album that is experienced as much as it is enjoyed.
Review by Paul F Cook