Okay, I’ll get this out of the way first. I get sent a lot of instrumental and electronic music, it’s often generic (in that the same sounds and samples seem to be used over and over again), dance beat-driven and, if I’m being honest, it isn’t that great. I mean, it’s okay. Entertaining? Yes. Original? not so much. Which is why this funky affair is so refreshing, so creative…so damned good.
As I say, most composers of such music seem content to set up a beat pattern that lasts the length of their track, which can range from 3 minutes to three days, or so it would seem. The first thing you notice with E=MC2 is its wandering dynamic, its deft change of speed and direction, its ability to run at pace, reach for sonic heights and then lull seductively.
At its core are dance grooves but not your run-of-the-mill, four-four floor fillers. Here things head out more into less clubland territory, absorbing the sort of jazz-rock vibes that Steely Dan did so well, the ambient experimentation of Brian Eno, trippy, electro-psychedelia, funky soul grooves, a touch of lift muzak – though here it has been subverted and made cool…and all manner of cinematic sounds, filmic fun, ambience and energy!
Proxima kicks things off, and right from the start it gets interesting; clashes of sound collide and compliment in equal measure, various styles, from rock to dance to jazz to funk all vying for position. Funk wins the fight but as its basslines build a groove and the Hammond organ rides the musical waves, you realise that it has brought all of its rival genres along for the ride anyway and they make themselves known from time to time.
Approach wanders some more considered and understated musical pathways building smooth and strange, almost Vangelisian soundscapes, supple suites of sound taking in everything from ambient electronica to classical grace. The punningly clever Mutha Nose Best brings me back to the Steely Dan references that I mentioned in the opening paragraph, only this would be a version of that band who, instead of coming up through folk rock to create a smooth, signature, west coast, jazz-rock identity had instead started out life at a time when technology had allowed them a whole different, forward-thinking, futuristic even, sound palette to play with. And they might be living in a totally different dimension as well. We Stayin’ plays us out in fine and funky style.
And I have to mention how great the accompanying visuals are. Its blend of cosmic imagery and psychedelic patterns is the perfect accompaniment to this futuristic, far-out and funky music.
I’ve heard music like this before, many times…perhaps even too many times. But I have never heard it done with such skill and dexterity, such spirit of experimentation and adventure, such genre-hopping grandeur and eloquent grace. This has to be the new benchmark for anyone working in this corner of music.