Review Summary: I've got to be honest, 311's commercial debut is a landmark album.311 – Music: Terra Firma
Terra. Earth. Third planet from the sun. Omaha, Nebraska to be exact. It is here that the journey begins for five carbon-based biocomputers united behind a shared desire to promote peace and love sonically throughout the cosmos. Naming themselves after law enforcement code for indecent exposure, this quintet has forged a mighty alliance celebrating unity through the power of positivity. Music
marks their first large-scale transmission, an auditory injection of encouragement and hope aimed squarely at the figurative buttocks of the maligned and infirm. The album’s popularity went viral, and continues to find those in need with a certain synchronistic precision.
311 employ a well-constructed amalgamation of sounds through which to broadcast their universal messages. A diverse blend of rap, rock, hip-hop, funk, metal, and reggae ensure that their music will reach across cultural and ethnic borders. On any given track you may find “funk slap bass mixed with the dance hall and hip-hop beats and punk guitar and…”, well just about any of those, often in the same song. Here we find an enduring and original sound, not some transient rap-rock, nu-metal fad as the uninitiated may contend. Musicianship is top-caliber and defies categorization. What strange alchemy could produce such a gloriously intoxicating elixir? Clues are revealed later in the discography.
It is only fitting that a debut album as aptly titled as Music
contains the lead track “Welcome”. The song is an appealing initiation to the hive five, and covers a considerable amount of ground. A groovin’ ska intro gives way to a funky, distorted bass line before demonstrating the groups’s capacity for semi-metallic swing. The verse is old school rhymes, with the pleasant effect of SA parroting the last syllable or word of Nick Hexum’s lines, and vice versa. Most of 311’s core ingredients are contained in “Welcome” and are presented in variety of structures throughout the album. This introduction, though indicative of the material to follow, is merely precursor to later waveforms (tracks 3-6) which constitute much of Music
“Visit” triggers a revelatory sequence of songs, admonishing the modern preoccupation for all things material while advocating that listeners edify themselves through exploration of our planet’s many cultures and ideologies, spiritual and otherwise. This theme is further expanded with the karmic implications of “Paradise” and a call for “Unity” amongst those of like mind. Though most lyrical themes on Music
are decisively terrestrial, “Hydroponic” foreshadows the aesthetic and lyrical direction of future 311 releases.
Interconnectedness seems weighs of heavy on mind of Nick Hexum as he notes:
Everything I eat is from the Earth, right?
I am what I eat straight up Earth, right?
Nothing but a walking sack of Earth nice to meet you how do you do,
Guess what? Yeah, you're one too.
My skin holds me in, my brain moves me then boom.
I jump straight off the speaker in a form a celebration that we're moving.
Freely disconnected I'm truly grateful I'm going back the Earth.
I'm not gonna waste life being hateful.
Although this concept of oneness is mostly explored on the global level (…”the abstract notion that you connect me to the ocean because I’m water, and carbon, and not much else…”
), Hexum also shares that he is ”…hooked on trying to fathom the solar systems; an atom in a larger molecule called the galaxy”
. “Hydroponic” ultimately serves as unwitting harbinger of the arcane and celestial themes further explored in future transmissions.
Following a brief foray into the numinous, 311 remind us that the listener’s happiness is always top priority. While fathoming the unfathomable, it is important to keep yourself grounded by partaking in hedonistic pleasures. Spend some time with your “(my)Stoney Baby” and you get a two-for-one. Allow yourself to “Freak Out” once in a while, but realize you’ve got to be liberal with your kind buds and your love. This mutual respect will ensure that your fellow brothers and sisters want to “Do You Right”. Nothing “Feels So Good” as the satisfaction you get from embracing yourself as an individual and being successful doing what you love. 311 should know, they’ve been doing it together for decades.
Nick Hexum – vocals, guitar, programming
SA Martinez – vocals, turntables
Tim Mahoney – guitar
P-nut – bass
Chad Sexton - drums