By: Bill Clifford
With its sixth studio recording, Dig Deep (available for free download on the band's website), The Motet continues to mix dance oriented electronica sounds with rich Afrobeat and Latin tinged funk. It's an evolution of the sound that drummer Dave Watts began to delve into with the group's 2006 release, Instrumental Dissent. Dig Deep was recorded and produced by Watts at his home studio in Boulder, Colorado.
The sound of Dig Deep remains anchored in Afro-Cuban and West African roots, and the opening two-song salvo is a pair of compositions by a pioneer of Afrobeat, the late Fela Kuti. "Kalakuta Show" is driven by dense, funky horns blown by Dominick Lalli on tenor sax, John Stewart on baritone sax and Danny Sears on trumpet. Vocalist Beth Quist, who hasn't appeared on a Motet recording since 2000's Play, turns in a soaring vocal howl that's more of an instrument than a conveyer of lyrics. Scott Messersmith's bubbling percussion is the undercurrent to Joey Porter's upbeat, synthesized keys on "Roforofo Fight," a tune that is certain to have live music fans writhing every which way.
Dig Deep is layered with Watts' sampled beats and glitches, with keys, horns and rhythms added as textures. That isn't to say that the CD is any less funky than previous Motet releases, rather, the sound is just a little more progressive. Songs such as "Nemisis" and "The Luxury of Doubt" have a spacey, almost ambient groove. On the latter, Quist's graceful vocal chants again color the canvas of sound with a haunting effect.
The upbeat, bouncy title cut is a rhythmic swirl of keyboards and guitar, ambient beats and percussion. "Mighty" is thick, rich, groovy Latin funk, powered by the jazzy three part horns and loping bass masterfully laid down by Garret Sayers. On "Guru," his playing is much more resounding, with his thumping bass driving the track forward. "Push" gyrates and writhes on a jaunty synthesized tempo that moves along the same lines as The Dazz Band's "Let It Whip," a surefire dance floor bomb. Watts samples President Obama's voice on the closing track, "Tonight It Belongs To You," together with atmospheric keys and a cadent, pulsating rhythm.
Dig Deep pushes The Motet's evolution further toward a more progressive, dance oriented sound, without sacrificing its roots in Afrobeat and Latin Funk. It's a sound that will please fans both old and new.
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