Over the last five years, GoGo Penguin have reached a level of popularity that few others in the British jazz scene have attained. It is in large part thanks to the Mercury nomination received by their second album ‘v2.0’ in 2014, but it is also because of their ability to seamlessly fuse the traditions of modern jazz with those of contemporary classical and electronic composition. On this fourth album, they find themselves more ensconced than ever in the world of electronica, finding the genre’s ability to gently build and layer a rhythm to be in lockstep with their own natural writing and performance style.

The Manchester trio are defined by rhythms – bassist Nick Blacka and drummer Rob Turner are the percussive, beating heart of the band, with pianist Chris Illingworth taking the lead on most tracks. That is as true as ever on A Humdrum Star, with many of its nine tracks finding Illingworth playing lilting, swelling, pulsing parts, arranged in such a way as to recall the intricacy of Aphex Twin’s most minimal releases or the underrated 2017 record ‘New Energy’ by Four Tet. Two of the album’s least dramatic numbers in ‘Prayer’ and ‘Window’ are curiously chosen to bookend the record, as if to give protection to the somewhat more challenging material that lies between them.

That is not to suggest that A Humdrum Star ever produces anything to alienate the listener. The most frayed and erratic track is ‘Transient State’, with its stormy cymbal crashes and choppier waters. It deliberately lacks the glacial beauty of much of the rest of the album, leaving it sounding curiously stranded and alone, less adding much-needed variety than disrupting an otherwise cohesive, holistic total.

When it lands, it does so with some beauty. ‘Bardo’ is a rushing, surging, twinkling joy, Illingworth’s fingers finding keys the way that snowdrops find the sunlight. Blacka’s upright bass bends and pulls, whilst Turner’s flurry-some drums give forward momentum. It has the quiet majesty of the aforementioned electronic greats, the sort of live show that might come out of Boards of Canada’s records if we were very lucky. Less stately but just as exciting is ‘Raven’, a harder-edged rhythm with sharper piano notes and a more menacing bassline. Most pulverising of all is ‘Reactor’, a hammering piece that attempts to show some patience before giving in and unleashing the fastest, sparkiest crescendo of the album. Just as with their live shows, they have several gears that they can switch between with some ease, often doing so without giving any real sign that change might be coming.

GoGo Penguin’s increasing tendency to dabble with music from different backgrounds is encouraging, an instinct that should be in no danger of running dry any time soon. With a straightforward three-part lineup, they are able to morph themselves into new shapes at will, which is testament to their technical clout. A Humdrum Star is largely successful and in a perfect world will be just one of a great many formal experiments for the band.