Some nights I can’t sleep. One way I combat this is by pouring through some of my favorite music outlets and see what’s on its way. On one such evening not long ago, I checked in with one of my favorite purveyors of fine tunage, Art As Catharsis. It was there that I found a song called “Blackline” by a jazz outfit called COAST. After just a single listen, I was stoked to hear what else this Australian quartet had up their sleeves. The band’s self-titled release is due out on March 20th, and features six expansive jazz compositions. Let’s dive in!
The opener to the record is the lead preview song “Blackline”, and my oh my is it just bursting with energy! With a synth-led intro, the song starts laying in guitar and drums with a punchy riff that pushes and pulls against saxophone and lead guitar parts. In traditional jazz fashion, this lead-in gives way to spacious rhythms that allow the musicians to improvise and showcase their chops, all while keeping the energy maxed. This near nine-minute track is filled to the brim with a genuine sense of fun, and I can’t keep the smile off of my face while listening to it. After just one playthrough of “Blackline”, it’s hard not to see COAST as a really special band.
The chaotic fury of the first song is followed by the atmospheric piece “Tide.” With a focus on harmonies at the start, this spacious song takes its time to move and shift moods, spending about half of its total run time reinforcing the chilled-out groove. It’s around the halfway point that we get some nice wrinkles from the bass lines and synth lead. There’s a lot love about this one. COAST really know how to let a groove set in the pocket to the right amount, and so they allow the feeling to wash over you without you getting bored. In short, it’s the perfect driving track. It’s hard not to love every second of this. “Or Not” is track three, and one of the more traditional-sounding ones to be found on COAST. It’s percussive, at times dissonant, and thoroughly enjoyable.
There is an overwhelming sense of joy that runs through COAST, and doing this so palpably is what sets this selection of songs and performances apart. While it’s all technically sound and the production is flawless, this album more than the sum of its parts. “Dance 35” for example starts with a light fade-in that gave me the feeling that I had just walked in on a retro dance party. “Obin” is one of the longest tracks to be found in the tracklist, but its almost ten minutes absolutely fly by. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the oft-frantic and decidedly heavy final song, “White Water”. Its deliberate pace creates some interesting dread, using tones and beats that I know I have heard in a few Russian Circles tracks before. It’s a neat closer that shows COAST are adept at whatever they want to do.
This record embodies a lot of what I love about music in general: energy, emotion, and originality. There are a few little quibbles that I have, including a few improvised sections that didn’t seem like they were executed to the same level as the rest of the record. However, this doesn’t really affect my overall feelings about COAST. It’s an album which crackles and pops with electricity, and each track brings fresh new sounds. COAST is the perfect name for this album and record: it’s an effortless drive down a beachfront highway that shouldn’t be missed.
Notable Tracks: “Blackline”; “Obin”
FFO: Mammal Hands, GoGo Penguin, Portico Quartet