The Black Sea - "Set and Setting"
(Kinda Like Music 2004, KLM 003)
From Aural Innovations #30 (February 2005)
I enjoyed The Black Sea's deep space explorations on their first album, c:>Spacewalk (see AI #22), and expected more of the same on their latest, Set and Setting. But bandmembers Steven Scavuzzo and David Weintraub totally surprised me... and I like being surprised.
When the album opens with a sample of Paul Williams as Swan introducing a pop cantata from The Phantom of the Paradise and another voice crying out, "give me a funky-ass bassline!" followed by, well, a funky-ass bassline...you know we're not headed out into deep, dark space this time. Scavuzzo and Weintraub mine the last four decades of music, bringing in other musicians on percussion, bass guitar, sax, flute, clarinet, vibes, drums and trumpet layering them in with dub and hip hop rhythms, trippy synths, guitar and lots of funky voice samples for a retro-futuristic, psychedelic west coast sunset groovefest. From the jazz-funk flipout of Solid Gold to the mellow guitar and infectious synth melodies of I Wish There Was a Pill to the highway cruising, sci-fi techno trip of California Contact to the melancholy and elegiac Die Like an Astronaut (and it's lovely, golden ambient coda in the form of the title track), Set and Setting takes you on a journey across a surrealistic American landscape beneath a sunset sky that's quickly turning to a star filled night. In the samples, drug and sci-fi references abound, giving the music a trippy and sometimes nostalgic vibe that hints at mysteries just beyond the horizon.
The Black Sea's Set and Setting show that this creative duo has no intention of wallowing in any kind of formula. Whether they're exploring the outer reaches of space or a vast landscape littered with the lost flyers and broken bottles of American pop culture, they are still, always exploring. Highly recommended.
For more information you can visit The Black Sea web site at: http://TheBlackSeaMusic.com.
Email at: Zerodirt@aol.com.
Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald