My Life Starts Now
Beat Music Productions
Mark Guiliana has been on my radar since discovering his old band Heernt, a jazzer with huge forward-thrust, a most musical drummer who you just knew, from hearing with Heernt and in backing the likes of Me’Shell Ndegeocello and Dhafer Youssef, collaborating with Brad Mehldau – their Taming The Dragon album (under the name Mehliana) is worth hearing – was about more than just playing the drums, was about more than just jazz.
As composer, beat-maker, producer and player he’s harnessing a musical world full of ideas and colours and with the launch of his new Beat Music Productions label he’s released two different albums, one composed, one improvised – one LA-based, one from New York. This is the New York album, the composed album, this features Guiliana as leader, as drummer, manipulating the sound, colouring with electronics and driving the grooves. His band includes Yuki Hirano on keys, Stu Brooks on bass, Michael Severson on guitar, Ndegeocello offers spoken word (the wonderful Strive) and the voices of Jeff Taylor and Gretchen Parlato are also put to use.
Guiliana has more music to come – jazz quartet music, solo works, more from Heernt, and it’s all bubbling and brewing and will burst forth via his own new label. But My Life Starts Now is enough of a wow-piece as standalone. Where previously Guiliana has displayed the chops on the kit and being on a level with the likes of Chris “Daddy” Dave as beatmaker and player this album sends him towards that next level, comparisons now with Madlib, Karriem Riggins, and there’s such a well-rounded feel to this, it isn’t at all about showing off.
This One Is For You highlights his deft melodic skill – and then by the time of It Will Come Back To You we’re moving toward the stately grace of DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing – those nearly emotionally overwhelming sweeps of music.
My Life Starts Now is fascinating in its genre-less-ness – it isn’t jazz, it isn’t hip-hop, yes it takes from both of those areas, yes its creator makes noises in both of those spaces, shapes sound from the vestiges of the beats that hallmark those musics as ideas and ideals but My Life Starts Now does indeed feel like a starting point for a whole new sound. There are reminiscences – Dream. Come. True. is the most overtly Heernt-like piece, that cut of Guiliana’s drums in determined down-beat placement to drive the tune, a groove that bites down, B.Y.O.B. rides on skittish crosstick patterns and a buoyant reggae-groove bass-line, Manhattan Nights, Pt. 2 is a Riggins-like snippet of late-night-drive instrumental hip-hop and the closer, Let Go, has the emotional weight of Moby’s finest moments on 18, and Shadow’s work once again.
There’s a lot inside the musical world of My Life Starts Now. And as the start of a flood of Guiliana music it announces – so clearly – that this guy who has previously been “one to watch” is now here as one to listen to.