It’s fascinating to consider the way a group’s name and the album art can affect the way you listen to the music. The artwork throughout the self-titled album by The Impossible Gentlemen owes a great deal to the painter René Magritte. So when the first tune, “Laugh Lines,” by the group’s guitarist Mike Walker, opens with furiously fast and impossibly intricate melody lines, you are immediately caught up in a surreal world.
The album calms down with the next tune, “Clockmaker” (also by Walker), but even that has its own interweaving musical gears. By the time you get to “You Won’t Be Around To See It” and “Play The Game” a few tracks later, both by the group’s pianist, Gwilym Simcock, the complex lines by Simcock and Walker tell you you’re definitely through the looking glass.
Aside from Simcock on piano and Walker, guitar, The Impossible Gentlemen are Steve Swallow, bass and Adam Nussbaum, drums. Although it is Simcock and Walker who most often take the spotlight with breathtaking solos, both Swallow and Nussbaum contribute mightily to the overall intricacy and excellence of the album.
The majority of the tunes are by Simcock and Walker with Nussbaum contributing one. Aside from the uptempo compositions that dominate there are several ballads, including the beautiful “Wallenda’s Last Stand” (Walker), which nicely evokes a melancholy bygone circus act, and Nussbaum’s languid and gorgeous mid-tempo song, “Sure Would Baby.”