No Time Like the Future
From the opening bars of "Wild and Peaceful" (almost a description of the group's style) with its soaring strings, crystalline piano, and flawless vocal harmonies, it's apparent that No Time Like the Future is rich with Incognito's patented blend of soul and finesse. "It Ain't Easy," with its refrain of Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On," is a classic funk outcry; "Fearless" is a wordless chant with some great rhythm guitar and booting jazz saxophone; "Nights Over Egypt" backs another great vocal with popping bass and orchestral atmospherics; "Black Rain" mixes exotic drumming with some subliminal dissonance. Producer-composer-guitarist Jean-Paul "Bluey" Maunick has added string arrangements by Simon Hale, appearances by the horns of the hot Cuban band Irakere, and the performances of small army of R&B singers (Maysa, especially) and British contemporary jazz players (Ed Jones stands out on tenor and soprano). The result is an irresistible combination of strong songs and pulsing rhythm tracks, all polished to slippery perfection. --Adam Rains
The Jones Girlsの『Nights over Egypt』をカバーした6曲目も最
Lift Muzak? Hotel Lounge? Monsieur sil't u plait! Bluey has a level of sophistication that earns him a niche all his own. This is fully orchestrated peerless acid Jazz. Everywhere there are similarities and you can name check all the tags for Anita Baker, Jeff Bradshaw or Norman Brown - but you'll only get close. Please don't say London /UK-ish this or that, just not even in the same league. New York isn't accurate either but at least suggests the level of sophistication this reaches.
The arrangements are written with precision and detail normally reserved for a film score. Hand slapped percussion amid complex running string and bass playing is decorated by brass and woodwind of every voice and timbre. Production in a word is meticulous, with myriad mix of contrasting instrumentation given its head yet preserving delicacy in the mix. The result is lush and in keeping with the mood of the recording, if a little predictable once you settle in.
Criticisms - Since Tribes, Vibes, it is starting to sound derivative. Odd selections from 100 Degrees and lead track Positivity fifteen years ago gave way to the dominant dance themes of their moments, but otherwise you get what it says on the tin Incognito, Incognito, Incognito . This is just as equally praise, because no-one actually goes to these lengths anymore. When you search the shelves for meat of the same flavour you always end up buying more Bluey. Like Prince, his trademark sound has become a genre in itself.
Judged against other Incognito releases (and it makes no difference what order you encounter them) this is easily up to the mark, but not without short comings. There is no obvious lead material here with the whole collection having very much a project feel about it. Second, while the Incognito "Family" boasts an impressive harem of voices, they are at times very poorly deployed. Nights over Egypt is lit up by (THE ONE AND ONLY ) Jocelyn Brown like she's been drinking napalm, only for her to inexplicably make way for Karen Bermod furiously writing cheques her voice simply cannot cash. Black Rain tantalises whilst demonstrating just how little writing constitutes great music if you know HOW to play. Favourites are the template setting Wild and Peaceful, with Marrakech remarkable for more than big Blue showing off with a Hammond B3.
No Time Like the Future is a gender separator - Women will dance in impossibly posh frocks, with cocktails and audiences eyes strategically placed. Alfa (Romeo) males will listen with Sennheiser reference headgear alone in a darkened room.
You have to remind yourself this is a decade old work that somehow has remained so sharp you could shave your legs with it. Noted faults aside this is compelling listening!
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