Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Ooberfuse releases “Call My Name” (remixes)

With a pulsation similar to the elevated heartbeat that most of us experience upon seeing someone that we’ll have a passionate romance with, we find the understated bassline’s groove in Patrik Kambo’s remix of “Call My Name,” the new song and music video from Britain’s ooberfuse. Kambo makes the bass as much of a star in this track as the vibrant lead vocal from singer Cherrie Anderson is, and when we compare their textural similarities to one another, the only thing to distinguish the two of them is the lyrical emissions that Anderson shares with us one poetic verse at a time. If “Call My Name” were a meat and potatoes pop song, you would never know it, and that’s because these five mixes allow for it to evolve into something much more commanding than a simple Top 40 teen beat could ever be.

Hal St John’s mix of “Call My Name” was, like Kambo’s, designed for mainstream radio airplay, but where Kambo leaves the central synth melodies alone in his edit, St John scraps them altogether, filling their spots with an effervescent string arrangement that arguably holds the song together much better than the synthesized parts do. This mix favors the vocal and the instrumentation equally, with the rigidity of the drum track melting away under the pure heat of the groove and tonality of the guitars. There isn’t another version of “Call My Name” that is quite as captivating as this one is, though some – like the “Push The Frequency Festival Mix” – are definitely in the same ballpark of provocativeness.

“Push The Frequency Festival Mix” borrows a few of the string parts that we hear in Hal St John’s mix and fuses them into the spastic percussive components with virtually zero elegance, creating a gritty noise between the two that singer Cherrie Anderson essentially incorporates into her seductive vocal harmony. Though I find the smorgasbord of color to be incredibly beautiful, this track will likely be viewed as the most overwhelming for casual listeners if for no other reason than its magnificently multilayered mix. The same can be said for the low-end assault that “The Noise” edit can be described as, but not in the case of Paul Kennedy’s remix (also found in the music video for “Call My Name”), which I consider to be the most efficiently structured track here

Kennedy’s use of sharp white noise as a backdrop for the cathartic verses that Anderson vaults in our direction was probably the most brilliant move made in the creation of this EP, but I have a feeling that listeners are going to walk away with plenty of their own opinions in regards to the aesthetics of Call My NameOoberfuse give us a lot to think about in this sixteen-minute opus, and for containing less than half a dozen tracks, that’s something that even their tougher American critics would have to concede as being exceptional. Having spent a great deal of time reviewing music in this genre, I can confidently say that there really haven’t been any electronica records released in 2019 that can compete with the enduring musical depth that we find in these five tracks.

Joshua Beach

Monday, August 5, 2019

Robert Miller’s Project Grand Slam releases new LP

There are a lot of interesting things going on in pop music right now, but as I see it, few acts touring today have the prowess to compete with Robert Miller’s Project Grand Slam, whose new record PGS7 is taking the jazz fusion world by storm this summer. Unsurprisingly to those who follow the group, Project Grand Slam’s latest studio affair is littered with powerfully melodic lyricism (delivered by Ziarra Washington) and a bevy of instrumental treasures like “Torpedo of Love” and “Funk Latino” that only add to the jam session-feel of the tracklist. It’s a fully-loaded disc, and it couldn’t be arriving at a much better time of year.

“Python,” “Redemption Road,” “No One’s Fool” and “Take Me” express more with their rhythmic drumbeats than they do with their decadent melodicism, whereas “Get Out!,” “At Midnight” and the vicious, groove-driven “I Don’t Know Why” use plunging basslines and searing sax play to get everyone within earshot clinging to the edge of their seats. Robert Miller is using everything at his disposal in PGS7, whether it be his players or the instruments that they wield like divine weapons, in making a big statement about the current direction of this much-buzzed pet project.

When she steps up to the mic in songs like “Tree of Life” and “With You,” the whole world belongs to Ziarra Washington, who submits some of her most profoundly beautiful vocal work to date in this album. Both of these ballads contain just as much zeal as we hear from her in the single “Redemption Road” and Project Grand Slam’s affectionate cover of “The ‘In’ Crowd,” but there’s something all the more special about their slow-paced melodies as she commands them. She’s become such a powerhouse in her own right, and in some ways is just as much the face of this band as Miller himself is.

I don’t often say this about LPs that are as long and in-depth as this one is, but pretty much every song here would make for a decent single. You don’t have to be the biggest fusion fan on the planet to get into the thick grooving of “Funk Latino” or “At Midnight;” in fact, I think that a lot of this material would play just as well with adult contemporary and experimental rock fans as it would with hardcore jazz fanatics. PGS7 could act as an essential gateway drug for a lot of curious listeners interested in finding a more erudite sound this summer, but even if it didn’t, it’s still a major upgrade from most anything I’ve heard gracing the American Top 40 lately.

Project Grand Slam provide us with an immaculate smorgasbord of colorful crooning and artful rhythm in this most recent release via Cakewalk Records, and if history has taught us anything about this band (and really anything that Robert Miller is involved in), it’s that PGS7 is only a blueprint for whatever is going to come out of their next trip to the recording studio. This is one group that can always be counted on for a rock-solid melody just when we think they’ve gone extinct, and it’s hard to see that reputation changing anytime soon after hearing this awesome LP.

Joshua Beach