The Neurons

Lakefront Records, 2004

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


For all my protestations of musical diversity, I'm basically a creature of the mainstream. Oh, I might dabble in jazz and prog and blues and country and metal. But when it comes to comfort music, I'm as likely as not to grab for one of a hundred thoroughly predictable introspective singer-songwriter types -- y'know, the ones that give the tragically hip scenesters hives just hearing their name ("John Mayer" -- gotcha!).my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Which is one of many reasons it was such a pleasant surprise to me when I popped this disc in my player and couldn't seem to get it out.

The Neurons are a pair of relatively anonymous veteran sidemen (Paul Adams and David Hoffman) who made their names working in the shadows of others (notably Ray Charles), and The Dance is a homemade batch of hippiefied instrumental acid jazz/world music that is absolutely addictive. Consisting of thoughtfully arranged layers of keyboards, exotic percussion, trumpet, bass, guitar and various and sundry vocal snippets, the music melds jazz sensibilities with a steadily adventurous and multicultural ethic to create a warm, inviting, organic atmosphere.

The core of the Neurons' appeal can be stated in a single word: groove ("The power of movement / The power of groovement" goes the goofy motto on the laser-printed-at-home sleeve). Every one of these tracks has it, whether the focus is on percussive melody lines, soaring flute work, or spoken-word poetry over a bed of soft jazz.

This is also one of those albums that defies you to describe individual tracks. This is an eleven-song suite of interconnected musical ideas, flowing one into the other like the soundtrack to a quiet day in the mountains. One track might feature snippets of Native American chanting, the next a gorgeous trumpet solo. Themes build within the tracks and then evolve as the arrangements add and subtract elements in a vivid whirl of sonic creation.

Bottom line: I grooved to this disc over and over again, turning it on while working on the site or doing work from home (bad worker - bad!). It's soothing yet engaging, energetic yet laid-back. Danceable? Absolutely. You might even call it… groovalicious. Whatever you choose to call it, this album is worth a shot for anyone who enjoys exotic instrumental music that sets the feet to tapping and neurons to firing.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2005 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Lakefront Records, and is used for informational purposes only.