Title Of Album: Surreal
Release Date: 26 Mar 2012
Genre: Acid Jazz / Funk / Neo Soul
I’ll nail my colours to the mast right away and say that I’m always excited to hear a new Incognito CD. Having been a fan since 1981 and having had the pleasure of interviewing leader Bluey a few years ago, my love of this band’s music shows no signs of waning.
So, it’s 2012 and instead of having a piece of vinyl to cherish, I have a download courtesy of Shanachie Records to carefully file and write about.
Let’s jump straight in and ride the incredible groove of ‘The Less you Know’. I don’t have musician credits but I don’t need them to recognise the silky, sexy voice of Maysa Leak and I don’t think she has ever sounded better. The production is flawless with lots of room for drums, bass, snazzy horns and that gorgeous vocal. The breakdown makes the hairs on my neck stand up! And when the JB-style snare snaps in to announce ‘Goodbye to Yesterday’ it’s clear that the dancing is set to continue. A male lead vocal, some sneaky rhythm guitar and some even sneakier horns and you’ve got a recipe for success.
That piano intro on ‘Above the Night’ has a lovely old-school feel and the tempo is more relaxed than on the first two songs. The horns are more muted too and they leave the spotlight for some truly outstanding female vocals. This time it’s not Maysa but, whoever she is, this girl can sing! The title track is – I’m going to say it – a hark back to the golden days of disco. That four-on-the-floor beat, great keys, great horns, strings and the lushest of background vocals just sweep you away. A real good-time dance track. God… lovely.
Right in the pocket is the lovely, funky ‘Capricorn Sun’ which shines the spotlight on Maysa. I love the groove, I love her scat vocals – I love it!! ‘Don’t Wanna Know’ is a pacy vocal with some strong male lead vocals. It’s got a great, catchy chorus too – how does Bluey keep doing it?
I love the moody intro to the chunky ‘Restless as we Are’. The female vocals are very sweet and this song really does get under your skin. The keyboards are offbeat and really grab your attention. The instrumental ‘Rivers on the Sun’ is a busy slice of classic jazz-funk in the way that Incognito does better than pretty much everyone. Once the trombone solo kicks in, it’s all over – resistance is futile!
The lazy ‘Don’t Break me Down’ takes you back into vocal territory and lets you get your breath back. It’s one of several songs on this CD that I feel I’ll be listening to happily for years to come… ‘The Stars from Here’ is a short and sweet Latin-influenced number which has the prettiest, most romantic feel.
The lush intro to ‘To Be With You’ belies the energy that’s coming along in another 6-minute uptempo groover. Played as the second song in a live set, this would stun people. It’s up, up, up all the way. Let’s hear the drums kick on ‘This Must be Love’. This funky vocal track would make great single material.
Sinewy bassline, stabbing but controlled horns, dancing percussion – who gives you all this every time out? Incognito. ‘The Way you Love’ for me sums up the way this band combines the best of old-school feel and modern production values to provide an intoxicating experience for the head and feet. Lord, I got carried away there! The album ends on the same groovy note that it began with the almost unbearably tight ‘Thoughtful Fantasies’. This bouncy instrumental has great soprano sax, trombone and keyboard solos. Check the percussion breakdown too. The mix sounds ‘live’ and if the band perform this on their current tour, folks will go nuts!
Ah people – if you love Incognito, this will be manna for your soul. It’s exotic, familiar, soothing and exhilarating all at the same time. If you don’t love Incognito, well it’s time you did. You have a lot of catching up to do… -- smooth-jazz.de