What happens when a hip New York jazz rhythm section share their musical visions with a West Coast musical shaman? Well, one possible outcome can be found by listening to Labyrinth Lounge’s debut album. Never far from a chilled jazz root this fascinating collection blends soulful vocals, contemporary urban pop grooves, funky rhythms and musical theatre narratives within its often seemingly unstructured songs.
Storytime in particular is a wonderful band back-story put to skittering, echoing electronica and jazzy, distant piano, delivered more like a teasing whisper in the ear than a song in the traditional sense. It’s Just Water is a bang up to date alt-pop-funk groove and We Be Rocking is a short, sharp futuristic tribal blast but it is perhaps the opening salvo of Trouble Won’t Last which is the best calling card for the band. Smooth and sassy uptown cocktail bar vibes meets urban soul and shot through with De La Soul style jazz rap, it provides the perfect introduction to what Labyrinth Lounge is all about.
And what they are all about is taking those well thumbed pages from the slicker and more groovesome end of the great American songbook and using them to play musical origami, folding one sound around on another, having one edge run at right angles to another, creating something new out of something old. And that is the art of it really, we can see what they have used to make their sonic origami songbird and we marvel at the deftness of the finished result. It’s just that we don’t really have much of a clue how they got from one to the other. We are just happy that they did.