If it was a vinyl album, I would have worn it out by now. I’m talking about Wave Mechanics Union‘s first disc, Second Season, best described as a jazz take on some of the iconic progressive rock music from thirty or forty years back. I don’t often take reviews to a level beyond a simple recommendation, but I’ve purchased a number of copies, and thrust them into the hands of friends.
“I don’t care what kind of music you like,” I tell them. “You must listen to this.”
Here we go, again.
Wave Mechanics Union – Further to Fly
Released – November 5, 2012
The group is irregular – a “recording project band” – made up of nearly 30 contributing musicians, mostly from the Indianapolis area, with arrangers (mainly Ryan Fraley and Ralph Johnson) who do a lot of commercial projects for “paying clients.” While all parts of this remarkable unit work breathtakingly well, for me it’s vocalist Lydia McAdams that draws it all together, more than just the cherry on top.
The material for this second recording is a little off the beaten path, even if the names are immediately recognizable. Case in point – the title tune, an obscure track from a forgettable Paul Simon album, if there is such a thing. 1990’s follow to the “Graceland” album, “The Rhythm Of The Saints,” which one reviewer called not so much art as “…an anthropology lesson.”
As I go back and listen to Paul Simon’s version, this one is better, much better.
Jon Anderson from the iconic progressive band “Yes” is involved with his favorite from the band’s repitoire – “It Will Be A Good Day (The River),” which has become one of my favorites from this disc. Thomas Dolby – most famous for the 1983 novelty tune, “She Blinded Me With Science,” also wrote “The Ability To Swing,” covered here – and to my ear, worthy of radio play most anywhere.
If the first album got my attention through the marquee quality of the titles, this one is earning my devotion by making me respect the craftsmanship of the music.
And that brings me to Lydia McAdams. A radiator of sensuality, a vocal trip down the Pacific Coast Highway at sunset, careening through the curves at a hundred miles per hour. This is the soundtrack you hear as the helicopter follows the convertible. She not only teases the emotion out of this material, much of it emotionless to my ear in its original state – but leaves me yearning for the next track, whatever it is. She’s singing Google searches? I’m in.
Plus, she uses really cool words like “grimoire.” Oh, go look it up.
That voice with which she’s been blessed adds the soul to these lush and finely-honed tracks that spring from the side streets, and it’s that voice that demands that I listen. As good as this material and the orchestra are (and the arrangements
rock swing), without Ms. McAdams, it would all be very lush production music, suitable as bumpers on the six o’clock news.
But only the top-rated six o’clock news.
I cannot recommend this recording highly enough. Go. Buy. Listen. Now.
I make no apologies for neglecting the blog here. I do have a day job, and a kid to put through music school.
And so I work.
For the past three months, it’s been a constant back-and-forth to Asia. I’ve been on the road so long my friend, and if you came along…
I gambled 30 bucks (!) on a disc in a Surabaya music shop a couple of weeks ago. And while I’m always bummed to discover I could have bought the same thing on iTunes for under ten bucks, I always justify the experience by saying things like, “Well, yeah. But then I wouldn’t have the story to tell about shopping in a Surabaya music shop.”
Is a disc by Chie Ayado worth 30 bucks? Not unless you want the story to go along with it. Is it worth $8.28 at iTunes? You betcha.