Alice in Grooveland – Skyline
(Crucial Cat Records CCRAIG00001. CD Review by Rob Mallows)
Alice in Grooveland is a London-based quartet, and a platform for the compositions of keyboardist Andrew Myers. What comes across right from the first track of this debut album is the sound of a band that has honed its sound through years of playing together live – indeed, the production by Joe Leach and Nick Watson reinforces that. It packs a pretty good punch if you turn up the volume!
Skyline offers a mix of jazz, funk and latin across five tracks. First track Doing Time is pretty gentle with a soft jazz-funk feel and a sax sound from Linas Benas that reminded me of David Sanborn in the ‘eighties – very melodic and perfectly polished. Drummer Nick Bradshaw and six-string bassist Leslee Booth provide a strong scaffold of groove, letting Myers and Benas take the lead on building the musical stories. Second track Tobias is Back is a more compelling effort with synchronised sax and piano driving an insistent melody that skips along and leads to involuntary foot tapping – this should be a great track to listen to live.
On this album the band aims set out what it’s all about musically. It’s not a particularly cutting edge sound – and the funk/fusion bandwagon often struggles to make an impact on the London scene – but they do what they do well and for funk/fusion fans like myself the album hits the right buttons. Third track The Cat is Crucial – with its Hammond organ introducing a gorgeous sax exposition, is the standout track and gives a hint of the potential this band has. Mot took me straightaway back to the glory days of the Acid Jazz explosion in the early nineties and the funk sensibilities of the James Taylor Quartet in its prime, while final track Skyline takes a different path, with Booth’s harmonic patterns setting the scene for a smooth finish, with Myers giving free reign to his Hammond organ on this long and well-constructed track.
Alice in Grooveland have a functional but well-constructed sound and have picked up the torch for funk and fusion on the London scene, and they want to run with it. Where to? Well, I think their sound can be a little two dimensional at times – this is a band that, with the addition of a guitar or some new keyboard sounds, I think could generate a serious rumpus and more impact. Nevertheless, as it is, Alice in Grooveland is gaining ground and listeners, and this is a positive album from a band looking up.