Album Review: “The Space Between” (Alexander Flood)
When I came across this album in the list of new releases on bandcamp I had almost scrolled past it. On the album cover (on the left) a young dude is sitting behind a very basic drum kit (only kickdrum, snare, and hi-hat) in a harbor somewhere.
My first thought was that it probably would be an album of some teenage Punk band “… but I thought I had set the filter to only display Jazz releases? Odd!” I thought. My next thought was that a cover could be staged … Perhaps this was the son of one of the musicians?
When I clicked on the album link to check it out (to satisfy my curiosity) it was directly clear by the artist profile photo that it was in fact Alexander Flood himself on the cover. So … what to expect? I pressed the play button and started listening … “Damn! those tracks are wicked!“. When you “dig” for new music online, you always hope to find a “hidden gem” somewhere … well, this one is one for sure!.
The whole albums sounds great, very, very wel played, recorded, mixed and mastered. Flood played the drums and percussion (congas, djembe, kenkeni, sangban, dununba, dunun bells, ogene bells, cowbell, agogo, tama, tabla, nagara, kanjira, darbuka, frame drums, riq, krakebs, hand claps, auxiliary percussion) and did the keyboards, programming & production on all tracks himself.
He is supported on this release by in total 13 musicians/vocalists whom I am not going to mention all now … I just like to mention Dylan Paul (electric bass & synth bass) and Jack Strempel (Frender Rhodes, piano & synths) because the 3 of them together sound “as tight as a tick”. Damn, those dudes groove! I also like to mention Josh Chenoweth who played the trumpet on track 2, 5 and 9. I really enjoyed his playing and the effects he used. For the rest of the line-up please do check the credits at the bottom of the info block on bandcamp.
The album itself has a variety of grooves, from the more R&B / Hip Hop style grooves of track 1: “All For The Pocket” and track 6: “Starseed”, via a Nu-Latin Samba groove in “LDN” (track 2) to even a rock-like groove at approx. 03:30 in “Weighing of the Heart Ceremony” (track 10). “Umoja” (track 7) even goes “clubby” (House). Some of the tracks not mentioned yet have grooves that are even more original, I am not sure how to “label” them style wise, so I won’t even try. In several tracks Flood uses ethnic percussion (track 4: “Pathways”, track 6: “Starseed”, track 7: “Umoja”, track 8: “Kantra” and track 10: “Weighing of the Heart Ceremony”) and with it he adds more “color”, even “cinematic qualities” to his music and stimulates the imagination of the listener. You can “picture” yourself as an Indiana-Jones-kind-of-character “out on adventure” with those tracks, if you get my drift.
I can honestly say this is one of the nicest new albums I have listened to in a while. Now, I could write a lot of nice things about each and every track on this album, but that would turn this article in to an essay rather then a review. So I will restrain myself and pick my favorite 3 track of the album. Not an easy task …
“LDN” (track 2)
The reason I picked this track to write about, is because of the progression it makes from start to finish. Imagine this: you start the evening chillin’ on a tropical beach … and end up at a big party in a house club? Are you with me? Well, here we go:
“LDN” starts with a wonderful mellow intro with Fender Rhodes (Jack Strempel) and trumpet (Josh Chenoweth) – you feel the last warmth of the sunset on your skin – then “things” turns into a pulsating “Nu-Samba” groove when Flood and Dylan Paul “kick in”. I use to love hanging out in Lounge clubs years ago, well, the girls there would have been dancing on the bar with a groove like that! At 01:30 the Nu-Latin feel is dropped and is replaced by a “Nu-Disco” groove with a trumpet-feature that – after a break (02:05) – turns into something like “Broken Beat” (02:18) to “return” to a “Nu-Disco” groove again – around (02:56) – leading to a “Rhodes break” (at 03:30) where the “Nu-Samba” groove from the beginning of the track returns. A drum solo by Flood builds up to an “all out” return of the “Nu-Samba” groove (05:35) … and just when you think they can’t take it any further the track turns “clubby” at (06:07) … what a trip!
“Re-Wired” (track 5)
I totally dig this groove … Great choice of – the some what “mysterious” – synths, there is an overall “rawness” to the track that I like, with Josh Chenoweth “screeming” with his trumpet in the background … and then a surprising “mellow” ending of the track, that could (should?) have continued another minute or two if it was up to me …
“Goodmorning (for Alden)” (track 9)
I end this review with“Goodmorning (for Alden)” … it starts as a lovely ballad … losts of juicy Fender Rhodes, synths, some percussion, a pretty melody … then suddenly some wicked sounding percussion motif (kind of like a motif one plays with a Quiro, but then electronic sounding) coming in at 01:36 … Josh Chenoweth joins in with his trumpet routed through a Wah (tasteful choice of effect). Flood and Dylan Paul lay down a cool gently pulsating groove. The tracks ends like it began, with lovely Rhodes, percussion and synths … super chill!
I hope you enjoyed the music as much as I did? You should definitely check the whole album, it is a gem!
You can find links o the complete album (bandcamp), website and social meda below: