Ever since he first emerged nearly two decades ago, New Zealand's Connan Mockasin has never been one to tread the path in front of him. While his abstract and adventurous directions become a firm part of his output for a while, he is always looking to try something different with almost everything he releases, giving him this unpredictable and exciting presence on the scene. And after releasing his much-loved 2018 LP 'Jassbusters', a concept record curated by a fictional band of schoolteachers from the mostly unseen daytime TV miniseries 'Bost’n ‘n Dobs’n', he is back to share its hotly-tipped follow-up 'Jassbusters Two'.
Much like its predecessor, this sequel once again takes on the guise of the fictional group, but is also one of the few releases that Mockasin has created alongside a live band behind him, which may explain why he sometimes feels a little uneasy on this new collection. While 'Jassbusters Two' is a largely instrumental album, there is also this strong feeling of freewheeled improvisation on some of the tracks, a texture that gels in the odd moment. When Mockasin does take to the mic, it is to add some much needed levity to the general tone of the record as he looks to make something work in this ad hoc offering.
There are the occasionally enticing moments on this new full-length, but 'Jassbusters Two' has trouble keeping its head above water at times. While the original 'Jassbusters' was a positive and shimmering return to form, this feels like a variety of offcuts that have been put out there to appease the most die-hard Connan Mockasin fan.