Fusing progressive music with jazz and other musical genres seems to be a French speciality. So far this year I’ve picked up a number of albums where French bands have expanded their sound range in this way, and here’s another one. Step in Fluid did release an album back in 2011, and have band connections with Hacride and Klone, along with origins in the city of Poitiers.

As I listened to “Back in Business”, I had a metal picture of a dimly lit room filled with intellectuals both on and off stage. This is a very accomplished instrumental album. Each of the eight tracks has a smooth groove and is cleverly constructed to engage us throughout its rich passages. I loved the sound effects from the programming section, which gave the impression of something outerworldly. We go from the retro djenty funk of “Booty Shake” to the inner city sirens, jazz funk and afro drums of “Streets of San Francisco”. “The Funk Bot Dance” took me into the shady night. I must say there is, at least in my ears, a strong element of the tv theme music about all this. If it was, it would be the theme to a US cop series. “The Stranger” bucks the trend, and is a more experimental piece of progressive jazz, laced with dangerous sounding djent. The short and melancholic “From A Friend” recalls the reflections of the night, before the technically djenty “Sex A Pile” takes over. By the end there’s a kaleidoscope of colour in contrast to the moody “Sex in an Elevator”, which follows. The xylophonic delicacy and edginess give off the air of a night club and the aura of sophistication, which is appropriate to this album of many instruments and contrasting moods.

At just over 30 minutes, “Back in Business” packs in a range of sonic experiences. There are no big messages here, or at least I didn’t detect any. It’s quite cerebral, and at times it’s atmospheric but above all the musicianship is outstanding. These eight tracks provided me with a delightful interlude, which I could happily listen to over and over.

(8.5/10 Andrew Doherty)