Admittedly, I’m out of the loop when it comes not only to new (for me anyway) Jazz artists but to also identifying key elements in Jazz music that I enjoy and why. Unlike other genres, Jazz, in particular, is from the outside looking in, like some form of chaos math, where equations contradict and mash with one another only to resolve simply in the end. From this chaos comes a structure that can be broken down into the basics of the musical language, but again, I’m not really one for comprehending such purely audial things. Now, if a song could paint a picture in my head…
Noah Young’s new album, Splinter, will be released March 22nd, under the Bubble Bath Records label. Called “Jazz Fusion”, his work on this record does indeed stir some imagery in my mind and some emotions throughout my body.
I’m embarrassed to say that “elevator music” comes up for me when thinking of calming instrumentals, normally. Here, there is calm, but it’s in the eye of a storm, surrounded by madness. Young produces wordless music on this album that bounces from story to story, despite and in spite of its lyric-less nature. I’m reminded of Frank Zappa & Th Mothers of Invention doing “Peaches En Regalia”, a song I long ago professed would be my pro wrestling theme music. If there is anything “elevator” related to Splinter, it would be that it has ups & downs, but all are positive in effect and affection.
We’re in the center of Young’s hurricane, and the lightness we feel in the moment is but an illusion to what’s swirling around us. Splinter may get funky from time to time, riffing and making me reminisce on some 70’s classic soundtracks, but it’s all at the service of a modern point of view that finds the ethereal and dare I say spiritual in what makes your legs move and your brain synapses firing. More often than not, Young makes noise in the way that teachers hand out chocolate before a quiz. This method is awfully playful and much appreciated when you’re eager to hit the skip button.
It’s groovy. Oh so groovy.
And that picture painted in my head? It’s of a man sitting still, smiling, eyes closed, as the world speeds faster and faster to uncertainty. There’s something about this that makes me feel… good.
Listen to his song “Testify” on Spotify now.
Bill Arceneaux has been an independent writer and film critic in the New Orleans area since 2011, working with outlets like Film Threat, DIG Baton Rouge, Crosstown Conversations, and Occupy. He is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association and is Rotten Tomatoes approved.