Criterion of the Senses
Though this is a slightly more subdued effort than his mighty Perpetual Gateways (an easy contender for my record of the year in 2016) the consistency is still there, the quality so high on Ed Motta’s latest.
The Brazilian DJ, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter seemingly can’t help but knock it out of the park. It helps that he is continuing on in a vein that is pretty much musical wet-dream territory for a lot of record-heads: think of George Benson is his lowest register fronting a brand new Steeyl Dan record.
Well, that’s what I think of – that’s what I hear.
I think also of Jamie Lidell, for there’s something in the way Motta creates what should be bonafide pop-gems (The Required Dress Code). Just as Lidell is doing sunny-sixties Stevie Wonder with just enough of a new edge, Motta’s the same with his deep Donny Hathaway/George Benson thing. It’s just total delight to me. Every time.
There’s an effortless to Criterion, where Perpetual was pushing hard, seeking – working overtime. Here it’s more of a soundtrack to early-evening drinks, or a lazy Sunday afternoon. It’s definitely jazz-chops heavy in places (Novice Never Notice) and that’ll either alienate or entice.
Actually, this new record is less Steely Dan than Donald Fagen solo – from the classic The Nightfly through to the more recent Sunken Condos. And what I mean by that, I guess, is the jazziness is overt, baked-in, hard-wired, but there’s an idiosyncratic songwriter peeking through (X1 In Test) and shaping quirky narratives. Though altogether less subversive, less smug than the Dan at their peak but so clearly in tribute to and taking from the same overall sound-palette.
There’s something wonderfully weird and dreamy about these songs – and the way they glide by. Remember Ike Willis in his crooner-type role when working with Frank Zappa? Well this is often like a less-pleased-with-itself, more sincere version of that.
Oh, I’ve scared you off now haven’t I?
Oh well, more for me…
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