Subthunk - Just A Few Notes Before You Go

The Los Angeles-based quartet subthunk (spelled entirely in lowercase "for no reason whatsoever") taps into the seemingly endless supply of modern jazz possibilities on their latest album, Just A Few Notes Before You Go.

The band makes no bones about their use of synthesizers, programming, and warbling Casio tone bloops. The result is a surprisingly deft multi-textural exploration that brings to mind The New Deal , Club d'Elf, Squarepusher, and at times, odd-rock like King Crimson and Ozric Tentacles. The band members are all heavily steeped in jazz, which helps add a much-needed melodic spice to their electronic funk.

Composer/guitarist/programmer Anthony Neely uses everything he has learned to imagine subthunk's sound, which employs sounds such as sampled voices, stinging electronic horn sounds, light speed jungle beats, and crisp traditional drumming. Just about every sound you've ever tinkered with on a keyboard at the music store makes an appearance. Relentless dance beats of varying tempos and structures mingle with cascading loops of sound. It sounds like a musical interpretation of roadway visuals. Objects in the distance seep by slowly, while objects close to you flash by at breakneck speed. The bass is what holds the converging styles together, slippery and sultry underneath the chaos.

The gloomy title track is aptly titled and consists primarily of brain-pinching synth clicks and channel-shifting trippy fun for headphone wearers. The vibe isn't totally intense and sinister; during the spoken-word laced "Fuzz," a voice declares repeatedly "in space, everyone will wear blue jeans." Scofield-tinged guitar lines and blissful dance escapism grace "Toast." "130.5" is a brisk, flashy funk number that sounds like Shaft in the 25th Century and features tried-and-true sounds like jazzy guitar and organ. Delightful stop-and-go drum-and-bass craftsmanship drives the album's most dynamic track, "Dogcar."

The palette of sounds, vibes, and technical ability is very high for an album rooted in trance and dance. There are a lot of bands playing matchmaker with jazz, funk, and techno right now, and most of them create their sound with very little computer help. subthunk is here to lead the non-organic brigade of funksters.

Beach Buggy
Just A Few Notes
Wax Remix