Just as hip-hop in the early '90s brought back the funk, acts such as Koop, Thievery Corporation, and Arkestra One (Matthew Timoney) will expose a new crowd to the wonders of jazz. Timoney, like the aforementioned groups, has a love affair with jazz from the late-'50s/mid-'60s and a nearly criminal obsession with that bossa/Brazil '66 sound. However, he (and the others) have enough of a hip-hop/dance sensibility to make it feel fresh and exciting and some of the nicest stuff you'll hear this year.
Arkestra One is a dreamy, airy album, a breezy sedative to whatever ails you. Timoney fills the disc with a carefree groove that relaxes you to the marrow. On his debut he has enlisted the help of Nina Miranda, another disciple of Astrud Gilberto (with a little Bebel thrown in as well). As all Brazilian mavens must sound, so does Miranda. Her vocals are creamy and seductive and warm you in places you thought would always be cold. On "I Really Want You," Miranda has a somnambulant longing that gently places her vocals over your eyelids and puts a smile on your face. "Train To Machupichu" is a really fun, happy-go-lucky, Zap Mama adventure of a song. The woman's on six of the eleven tracks here, and each song is fills you with that whipped-cream-with-a-cherry-on-top playful sexiness that we've come to expect from the Brazilian female vocalist.
Timoney alone has also crafted some impressive stuff. "Filling it With Sound" sounds like a British Burroughs being backed by The Fifth Dimension. "Man From the Audience" is a jazzy, vibed-out tune with the rantings of a televangelist (I don't know exactly what to make of the song aside from my liking it). But the coup de grace has got to be "The Sirens," where Timoney reverberates the air with a heavy bass line and menacing rhythm while he layers female vocal on top of female vocal for a maddening, alluring spell that mysteriously has you crashing into your stereo while listening.
Arkestra One is a truly impressive debut by a name we should look out for. It is intriguing and comforting at the same time and is utterly enjoyable -- a good time for those early evenings and late nights when things just aren't going right. Of course, this is exactly the kind of quality we've grown to expect from ESL, isn't it?
ESL Music: http://www.eslmusic.com