In moderate rhythm, piano keys delicately cut through the silence and usher us into the warm opening melody in the title track of Envisage Collective’s new album Reach Out, their very presence seeming to open the floodgates through which a strutting bassline, confident drums and sensuous sax will come pouring out. The majestic nature of the music is captivating, but what truly makes this first song on the record such a spellbinder has little to do with grandiosity and almost everything to do with precision. As we segue into “Habitat,” we start to learn just how committed to sonic efficiency this group is, and perhaps even more important than that, how far they’ll go to conjure up a potent harmony where others would see a musical dead-end.
If the understated intensity of “Habitat” doesn’t rouse all of your senses simultaneously, I would bet money that the soothingly surreal “Envisage” will, as it definitely embodies the stylistic counterpoint to its predecessor’s indulgent aesthetical make-up. “Envisage” artfully paints us a portrait of unfiltered emotionality over the course of roughly five minutes and change, and as we reach the finish line in the composition, an amalgamation of melodies leads to what could be this album’s most cathartic fever pitch. A stylish cosmopolitan beat ensures that the fireworks keep on coming as “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” brings forth a deluge of decadent percussion and melodic wallop courtesy of a perfectly synchronized harmony between the keys and the bassline, and while this is only the halfway point in Reach Out, it feels as though we’ve already consumed an entire LP’s worth of substance at this juncture of the tracklist.
“Malta House” begins in balladic territory, bewitching us with a riveting sax element that quickly expands into something much more vibrant and colorful in tone. The intricacies aren’t quite as obscured in the construction of this song as they are in “Wish,” but in both tracks, I think we get to know Envisage Collective on a much more emotional level than we do in other areas of this record. Where “Malta House” is multifaceted and enigmatic in its narrative, “Wish” is a bit more on the nose and deliberate with its sonic statements, setting us up for the hybridity that is “Step on a Crack” brilliantly.
Following a juggernaut of rollercoaster rhythm as driven by swift acceleration as it is a certain postmodernity more common in straight fusion than it is in this strain of jazz (i.e. “Step on a Crack”), Reach Out comes to a conclusion with the self-explanatory “The Closer,” a five minute finisher that builds on the soft elegance of previous tracks while incorporating a pastoral swing that could easily lull a baby to sleep. When all is said and done, I think that Envisage Collective are going to get some very high marks for what they’ve created in this LP, and moreover, what they’re establishing as their signature sound here. In an era that has offered a lot of interesting content from jazz artists both indie and mainstream alike, their new record is definitely one that I won’t soon forget.
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