GoGo Penguin are an instrumental trio from Manchester, England comprised of Chris Illingworth (piano), Rob Turner (drums) and Nick Blacka (bass). Fusing jazz, classical and electronic influences with a thirst for innovation, the trio have enjoyed success and rave reviews matched by few other contemporary instrumental groups.
Channeling the golden age of electronica
GoGo Penguin defy categorization. Their sound taps into the free-thinking improvisation of modern jazz visionaries – such as Sweden’s Esbjörn Svensson Trio (aka EST) – or minimalist composers such as Steve Reich and John Adams. It is also evident that the band’s members (all of whom are in their mid-30s) came up during the golden age of electronica. Their music echoes the pounding energy of techno, the detail of IDM (think Aphex Twin), the emotional crescendos of European house music, and the high-impact immediacy of drum ‘n’ bass.
Technology is integral to GoGo Penguin’s creative process. The band use compose using computer software and then find ways to perform the results on acoustic instruments (assisted by a modest collection of effects pedals). Drummer Rob Turner confesses, “I spend way more time on my laptop than I do on my drums. The ratio is probably about 90% to 10%”.
Turner works obsessively on Ableton – a production software favoured by electronic music producers. According to bass player Nick Blacka, “Using software allows us to explore ideas that might otherwise be off limits, but we always strive to play everything as organically as we can, on our instruments”.
GoGo Penguin’s self-titled studio album GoGo Penguin will be released in June 2020 via Blue Note Records.