by Scot MacMillan
March 2, 2012
The Bay State’s own Boombasnap, best known for their upbeat, genre-bending live performances have (finally!) emerged from the studio, dropping their first collection of original material — but only just a taste.
The Dawn, an infectious five-song EP, available on the band’s site (www.boombasnap.com) catalogues the quintet’s jazz-infused, funked-up grooves, putting a fine focus on their unique compositional and improvisational narrative. But not to worry, this is no noodle-fest. All tracks are kept tight and focused, yet never feel constrained — a feat for any band that puts a premium on free-form exploration. Listeners can hear (and feel) the lofty vision — the possibilities — without having to wade through drawn out, excessive jamming. Instead, what awaits is a solid inaugural effort, full of enough groove, hooks and technical gymnastics to pique the imagination and, perhaps more importantly, hold the listener’s attention.
As expected, genres and influences abound, from the title track’s nod to Pink Floyd and the Grateful Dead, to “Onionhead”‘s Steely Dan, 70/80′s sitcom-theme vibe. Is that even a genre? It is now. There’s even some hip-hop in the mix on the last track — the self-referential “Boombiography.” Curiously missing from this collection are the funked-up reggae and island riffs — a hallmark of the band’s live performances. Nonetheless, the groups own original sound never gets lost — and in fact soars — despite the numerous genres and influences being woven in throughout.
Highlights on the EP include “Onionhead”‘s funky outbursts, The Dawn‘s chill, languid dreamscape and “Trials of Trinket”‘s poppin’, happy street-walkin’ funk — not to mention its lyrical callout to the Galactic Empire’s dark Sith lord getting his funk on in-between crushing the rebellion — nice visual!
But for all that the rest of the tracks have to offer, it’s the contagious, grooving “Village” (fans of the now defunct-ish band RAQ will have fun with this one) that is a near perfect amalgamation of the band’s talent profile. Leading the way are keyboardist Cory Schechtman’s funky-carnival organ flights, Dennis Christiano’s sun-soaked guitar riffs and the emotive strains of Aaron Dupont’s saxophone. John Redden’s tight, in-the-pocket drumming provides the perfect foil for Brian Sances’ driving yet melodic bass. Throw in some catchy, “What, me worry?” lyrics, delivered with tight harmonies and you’ve got a bona fide winner. And for a track that clocks in just over five and a half minutes — it flies by — making one think about the potential for this song in the live setting.
And there in lies why this song and, to a larger extent, this album works. It manages to bridge the live experience with the possibilities (or some might argue, limitations) of the studio. And as is often the case, trying to distill the kinetic energy of a band that has cut its teeth on stage is often the scourge of even the most skilled of groups. Yet, to their credit, Boombasnap manages to serve up enough verve and energy to keep The Dawn interesting while in the same stroke making their unique alchemy of styles and sounds accessible to even the casual listener. And that tightrope is not easy to walk, but these boys sure make it sound like it is — marking their first turn out of the gates an engaging and worthy discovery.