The brilliant four-piece (Garage A Trois) has exceeded expectations again on their newest release Outre Mer. The disc is actually the soundtrack for a French film of the same name. A synopsis (both in French and English) of the movie’s plot on the cd cover takes the listener to a far-away French village and a young man 45 inches tall. From the initial note of track one, the title track, ears become ensconced and precipitate the manufacture of dopamine. Charlie Hunter contributes his 8-string storytelling and low-end vibrations, Skerik inserts his smarmy sax and secret effects, Stanton Moore keeps things swinging with his continuous, intense drum beats, and Mike Dillon takes the group to foreign lands with his percussive elements. Salsa, feel-good grooves, mambo, and Mike D’s impeccable percussion all contribute to giving the whole album a nautical feel. The musicians infuse melodic grooves and shoulder-moving rhythms with a unique, edgy sense of timing.
Presented as a whole, the disc is hard to compare track-by-track. They seem to progress in a fluid groove manner, as though one large session got chopped into separate tracks. I can only imagine that the film itself is chock-full of creative muster. To be honest, I could pretty much watch anything at all so long as this disc is playing.
With that being said, I still can pinpoint exceptionally remarkable tracks. Standout track number two, “Bear No Hair,” incites the listener to get up and move, if not speed while driving. Funky calypso grooves meld with a pleasant yet subtly hypnotic sax. The dramatic pauses make the track while the clunky beats remind me of a garage band composed of found objects as instruments. Timing is played with again on the next track, “The Machine,” where twice a pseudo end-of-the-song occurs to trick the listener. Smooth and ethereal saxophone swoopings turn into raucous, explosive grunting and delectable screaming on “Merpati.” It’s almost Jurassic sax - the track involves wild calls from Skerik resembling that of a flesh-eating dinosaur. The next track, “The Dream,” would also be better called “Prologue to a Nightmare” with its eerie feel and haunting tones.
“Antoine” involves Hunter’s signature stannic, metallic low end with Mike D’s percussive elements that inspire a Pacific Island sort of calm. “Circus” unleashes Skerik’s grimy sax into uncharted waters of Mike D’s tribal drumming influence. It’s almost as though Skerik is conjuring angry chimpanzees in a testosterone frenzy. In the meantime, Stanton’s flavorful drumming is standing strong on “Needles.” With stop/start beats and what I have come to describe as the “Galactic roll,” Stanton leaves nothing to be desired. He even continues an extended Galactic roll throughout the next track, “The Dwarf.”
Basically, Garage A Trois continue to wow and impress with their latest disc. With syncopated rhythms and the expert musicianship displayed by the four powerhouses, this is surely to be one of the best albums of 2005.
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