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The Philadelphia-based ensemble As Human, billed as a power house collaborative, blends progressive rock-influenced guitar layering, syncopated drum grooves, upright bass and sensuous vocals to create sounds that defy categorization. Their debut, self-published release, Kilo is a collection of eleven tightly arranged, meter-shifting compositions fronted by vocalist/lyricist Ryat.
Ryat unravels her light-as-air, personal narratives rather effortlessly over the instrumental sonic wash created by guitarists Dion Paci and Tim Conley, bassist Jason Fraticelli and drummer Tony Catastrophe. The gently executed melodic turns on "As Hwuman" and "Fall Backwards" contrast brilliantly with explosive bursts of rhythmic intricacy. Other tunes of interest on the disc are "Pining," with a Primus-meets-Radiohead punch, and "Set Free," a more straight-forward rocker.
One of the strong points of As Human is the stunning, open-minded musicianship exhibited by each musician. Paci and Conley mix a punk-rock attitude with jazz-fusion sensibilities to create a thick, effects-laden guitar landscape. The glue that binds the seemingly unrestrictive nature of each tune comes from Fraticelli and Catastrophe. The rock-solid bass and drum duo are as soulful as they are aggressive, creating a hypnotic vibe throughout.
All in all, Kilo is a fascinating release, at times quirky and unsettling, yet highly inventive and worthy of repeated listening.
Track Listing: As Hwuman; Fall Backwards; All That We Have Said; Pining; Level; Spiral; Set Free; Heavy Heart; Ojai; Tap In; Obsession (with the sunshine).
Personnel: Ryat: vocals, wurlitzer, synths; Dion Paci: guitars, percussion, programming; Jason Fraticelli: upright bass; Tim Conley: guitars, slide guitar, ukulele, piano, organ; Tony Catastrophe: drums, percussion.
Year Released: 2008
| Record Label: Self Produced
| Style: Beyond Jazz
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.