Eclectica

Streaming Video Soul

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As indicated by the psychedelic pop artwork on the front booklet cover, Eclectica could easily portray themselves as a throwback band when in fact they are much more contemporary and youth-oriented. Falling along the lines of Soulive, Galactic, or Jazzanova, the band prefers funky dance rave-up beats to jam on, rather than expansive themes or melodies. Vocals are included, ranging from singing to spoken word and rap, but the band is not beholden to any of them. Violinist Tracy Silverman is the lead instrumentalist, while bassist Kyle Whalum and drummer Roy "Futureman" Wooten round out the group, and all of them verbalize collectively or individually. It seems the group has not only a limited musical palette and repertoire, but its style is not nearly as eclectic as the band name suggests. Silverman has loads of potential, and when you listen to his extended lines, you hear that he is quite capable of taking this music much further. Their most poignant theme, "Nawlins," is basically a Bo Diddley beat instrumental jam with some unity-oriented but not post-Katrina lyrics, while "Peace and Quiet" relates to the tech age in a funky pop love song and "Sister Swag" is an "all about the girl" cliché come-on that is spoken, not sung. Baritone saxophonist Jeff Coffin -- Wooten's bandmate in Béla Fleck's Flecktones -- adds much needed musicianship on "If You Could Smile Forever," where Silverman's distorted violin is a distraction amidst the 7/8-metered funk and the male-oriented wish list theme. There's some underground poetry laced into "Bi-Polar Disorder," where an ostinato bassline wastes away into a far too long discourse where volume stands in for visceral excitement. The title track has some clashing key variance between bass and violin in a funk/dance/rap with retro lyric snippets, not the least of which speak to a love supreme. Other oblique references are made to South Korea, Jimmy Page, Vincent Van Gogh, Jacques Cousteau, and Gus Van Sant. While the three musicians certainly have their own individual merit, this is an inconsistent and at times flawed set with far too limited a repertoire and self-indulgence to be considered as anything more than sophomoric.

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