Sep 8 2016
There’s nothing normal about The New Breed, and considering that guitarist Jeff Parker has spent his career contributing to an impressively varied spectrum of projects, it’s no small thing that he’s able to keep offering up works that possess distinctly individual personalities. What triggered his latest album is the simple act of unpacking.
Where most people find that CD or shirt or spare key that had gone missing for ages, Parker discovered some old home recordings. Those became the foundation for The New Breed. Both the found sounds and the brand spankin’ new music are rooted in groove and beats and an old-school funk given new life in the present day. It wouldn’t be a far leap to expect something of an upbeat album of party anthems and get-down-and-dance moves. But that would be wrong. The New Breed has a seriously unsettling presence. It’s heavy, even when light on its feet. It circles the dance floor and only infrequently does it leap toward the center. Sometimes the music is a detached groove, rung from a hollow beat. There’s signs of life, a burning ember, solitary and nested at the bottom of a tin can… a subdued heat burning bright, signs of use and age all around.
There are moments of brilliance. The cool groove of “Get Dressed” is counterbalanced by its unabashed euphoria. The effects and samples on “Executive Life” and how they’re set into conflict with live instruments is more than a little fascinating, giving the sense of a song recorded from both sides of the ocean’s surface with one mic submerged underwater and the other blanketed in afternoon sunlight. And the woozy ballad of “Visions” with its slow gait and patient melodicism has an appealing personality, and it best epitomizes this album’s vague warmth and uneasy presence. Bobby Hutcherson’s original rendition of his composition is about as sweet of a lullaby you could ask to be at your bedside to send you off into gentle dreams. Parker’s rendition might also conjure up some dreams of its own, but they’re not likely to be quite as tranquil, nor as sweet.
This is a genuinely intriguing album.
Your album personnel: Jeff Parker (electric guitar, Korg MS20, Wurlitzer electric piano, Mellotron, loops and samplers, MIDI and drum programming), Josh Johnson (alto saxophone, flute, clarinet, Wurlitzer electric piano, Mellotron), Paul Bryan (electric bass guitar), Jamire Williams (drums) and guests: Jay Bellerose (drums, percussion) and Ruby Parker (vocals).
Released on International Anthem Recording Co.
Listen to more of the album on the label’s Bandcamp page.