Genre-blending through subtle jazz intricacies and funky, infectious rhythms – New Zealand’s premiere instrumental act GroovExpress paint an image of optimism and style throughout this superb new collection.
Contemplation Nova is the name, ten tracks devoted to the moment with crisp production that allows the natural strength of each performance to shine through on the recording. It’s a pleasure to lose yourself within, and here are a few reasons why.
Featuring electric guitar-play, meandering and surprisingly soulful synths, saxophone and limitless unity between elements, 13th Floor makes for the perfect introduction and a lasting highlighting from the album. The journey is extensive, often redirecting things as if a new composition had taken hold, except underneath this the consistency of mood and movement proves a hearty thread.
Sultry swagger and seductive vibes take hold for an aptly titled Honey Iz, following the opener with clear versatility yet equal strength of mood and rising momentum.
The perfect moment to mention how effortlessly impressive the musicianship consistently is across GroovExpress releases. This album in particular celebrates the talent, skill and involvement of each layer with prestigious identity and warmth. The mellow embrace and subtlety of the title-track comes in next and elevates these qualities all the more so.
Retro keys and unpredictable melodies inject a nostalgic gamer-jazz aspect for Cruise Groove, right before Funk Daddy Soul raises the pulse a little and gets the body moving. The contrast between electronic sound-play and the upfront power of the sax works beautifully, and this is exceedingly true throughout the following track Shaken No Stirred.
Shaken No Stirred is a cinematic highlight, not just for the obvious reasons. The drama and set-up of the arrangement, the progression, the lightness and depth united – there’s delicacy here, plus intensity, waves of each intermittently for an otherworldly and stylish hit of escapism.
Ira’s Jam keeps you gripped in the seduction and soul of the moment, then we get a little bass and higher guitar dynamic for the confidence and performative peaks of Catnip Blvd.
An ode to GroovExpress’ own idol Miles Davis also emerges in the form of Midnight Crush, a sultry and confident thank you card, with the iconic mute trumpet creatively implied by the guitar line; cutting-edge artistry akin to the likes of Miles’ own pioneering of live sounds like wah-wah and delay.
And as a closer, the brightness and uplifting energy of Rainbow Dream, complete with multiple new details for a clear hit of eclectic flavour, makes for an ideal final curtain.
Also offering a couple of remixes of late, which stood tall at the final Grammy Award rounds after inclusion on the last album Get Down and Funk, the new releases shine fresh light on what’s possible with instrumental music and freely expressive, organic creativity.
Following increasing success since the earlier album Amsterdaam went to number 1 on Billboard, GroovExpress is an act that speaks volumes on behalf of talent, passion and commitment united when building a career in music. Naturally a name and catalogue worth knowing about.