It is rare in the music industry to hear of a band who are still making a living and thriving musically after 37 years. Even though they are approaching four decades of releasing soulful, funk-infused tracks, INCOGNITO are still showcasing their relevance in the music scene today.
Since INCOGNITO’s debut record Jazz Funk in 1981, they have been making their mark within the scene with their innovative, hypnotic style. Now with 16 albums already to their name and number 17 swiftly approaching, the UK-based acid jazz group are ensuring that they are not a thing of the past. In Search Of Better Days will ensure that INCOGNITO’s die-hard fans who have followed the band since the early days will appreciate the band’s gift of blending their originality and flare with elements of modern genres such as drum and bass, which could act as a gateway for newer fans.
In Search Of Better Days is packed with guest appearances, ranging from the likes of pianist Avery*Sunshine, drummer Richard Spaven and Japanese guitar maestro Tomoyasu Hotei, whose track Battle Without Honor or Humanity has been used as the soundtrack for films like Kill Bill and Transformers.
Founding member Jean-Paul Maunick, more commonly known as Bluey, is the driving force throughout In Search Of Better Days. It is his vision of creating a soul/jazz/funk hybrid combined with talented musicians which bring the music alive and add a performance depth on the album, one which you would mainly get from a live show.
The album begins in true jazz fashion – from the smooth tones of the brass section, which compliment the self-assured, soulful vocals and the riveting cacophony provided by the array of backing instruments. It is trend which is paved out throughout most of In Search Of Better Days, however it is Just Say Nothing which takes the belt. With its Stevie Wonder-esque bounce and power, its ability to take every favourable extract from the 70s and 80s and to revive it with a modern twist is admirable.
Racing Through The Bends is the strongest demonstration of interwoven guitar and bass patterns, where one instrument will allow the other to perform their nuances before coming together as a formidable force.
Love Be The Messenger contains the album’s finest drumming moments. The syncopated, intricate rhythms and patterns are full of vibrance and they aid in the song reaching its full potential.Another stand-out track is is the six minute epic Bridges Of Fire, which opens with mysterious piano chords before Tomoyasu Hotei’s virtuoso guitar playing joins magically, creating a vibrant blend of jazz musicianship. The saxophone adds a touch of tranquility within the song.
There are a couple of lulls, however, which mainly fall within In Search Of Better Days’ slower songs. It is evident that the jazz and funk-centric tracks are sonically superior, however songs such as Love’s Revival and Move It Up are testament to INCOGNITO’s perpetual ability to be as diverse as possible.
In Search Of Better Days for the most part is an album which INCOGNITO can be proud of. In amongst the sterling choice of musicians, the structure of the songs and the ability to create some of the finest jazz, soul and funk in the last decade, INCOGNITO have proved that they are still one of the most relevant bands in the scene, whilst being daring enough to incorporate experimental aspects to gain an entirely new generation of fans.
In Search Of Better Days is out now via earMUSIC.
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