Review Summary: A blast from the past. 'Out On The Faultline' is an exceptional homage to old school Jazz-funk that is both adventurous and accesible.Out On The Faultline
is not just an album, it's also a time machine. It goes backwards and forwards, connecting us with many different eras in music history. It's our window into the past, one that allows us to familiarize ourselves with the trends and styles of a changing America. Despite being a British group, The New Mastersounds garner their inspiration from various American musicians and genres that reflect the evolution of music. From the early New Orleans Jazz scene to the exuberant Funk movement of the 1970's, Out On The Faultline is an eccentric collage of vintage sounds and melodies.
The album opens with "You Mess Me Up"
, and immediately we can see the direction that this album is heading towards. The only agenda that The New Mastersounds are deploying here is to induce a musical environment that is both engaging and jubilant. And quite frankly, they succeed with flying colors. "You Mess Me Up"
erupts with a very prominent guitar riff that just demands the listener to dance along its ecstatic melody. The aesthetic of the guitar work is actually much more reminiscent of modern Funk rock acts, particularly that of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, in the way that it follows a repetitive course that serves to augment the groove of the music. In its midsection, we find the music arriving into a jam break where keyboardist Joe Tatton begins to wail on the organ and exudes some very rapturous notes. "Mission Creep"
displays a much more vintage Funk sound. Again, the song is all about the guitar work of Eddie Roberts whose maneuvering is as dextrous as it is captivating. His style has a very James Brown feel to it here, bringing a strong rhythmic groove to the melodic theme, but he also ventures into his own idiosyncrasies in the solo passages. One of the major highlights of the album is "Yo Mamma"
, and the influence of old school Funk is at its most conspicuous here. Everything about this song just exudes Parliament & Funkadelic, from the provocative vocal harmonies to the irresistibly alluring hooks, making this the most convivial piece from the album.
The Jazz influences are not as evident until the latter portion of Out On The Faultline, but we really get to see The New Mastersounds exploring the many different dimensions of the genre. "Welcome To Nola"
starts us off in the earliest chapter in Jazz music, the place where it all started, New Orleans. The music is driven by a lively piano arrangement embellished in an eccentric rhythmic stride, and a stereotypical southern vocal rant that, despite not having any actual lyrical depth, does compliment the New Orleans Jazz vibe very well. "Summercamp"
fast-forwards us into the 1970's Jazz Fusion scene, it's an extended jam song that incorporates the various characteristics of the style. Unlike most Jazz Fusion songs, this piece is very mellow. It's certainly invigorating, but in a more subtle tone. The atmosphere of the song is almost psychedelic in its own way, as Joe Tatton coalesces his keyboard arrangements with some ethereal synthesizer dissonance. The music is exquisitely mellifluous, with each musician taking turns to engage in their own solo performances. "Summercamp"
is perhaps the apex of this section because it's just so entrancing and alluring that one cannot help but be succumbed by its radiant melody. "Redwood Jungle"
is another Jazz highlight, and one of the few to feature wind instruments. The brass section really takes the spotlight on this piece, erupting with passionate and enthralling harmonies that add some much needed excitement to the Jazz portion of the album.
Out On The Faultline is a very entertaining album, with a lot of euphonic appeal that can attract a variety of listeners. The only drawback is that The New Mastersounds don't put enough of "themselves" into the music. The album is really more of a reflection of their influences rather than a canvas that embodies their own ideas. Now, there's nothing wrong with proudly wearing your inspirations on your sleeve, as long as they remain your inspirations and not your identity. Though there are moments in the album where the group really comes into their own. The final section of the album exhibits a much heavier sound, expressing the aggressive and dynamic nature of rock music, while still retaining a funky demeanor. "Each To Their Own"
is the most distinguished piece in this latter portion, and also the mellowest. But it's within this song that we see The New Mastersounds combining all of their influences into one utterly intoxicating brew of sounds. It's one of the lengthier tracks and like "Summercamp"
, it shows off the band's improvisatory excursions. Overall, this is a very fun album. It's adventurous, while also emphasizing on being as accessible as possible. And though it may give fans of George Clinton and Return To Forever a sense of déja vu, it's a great starting point for any listeners looking to get into Jazz and Funk music.