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The Internet-Hive Mind

August 26, 2018

This band has not been on my radar despite the success of their 2015 release Ego Death that was nominated for a Grammy (for Best Urban Contemporary Album).

On Fridays, I always read the Electric Fetus’s new release post on their website. The profile on Hive Mind caught my attention and I gave it a listen and liked it. I dig the funk, neo-soul, hip hop and jazz stew. Most of these are silky slow jams.

The band is made up of Syd (Sydney Bennett vocals and member of the hip hop collective Odd Future), Matt Martians (keyboards, drums and vocals – also member of Odd Future), Patrick Paige II (bass and keyboards), Christopher Smith (drums and percussion) and Steve Lacy (guitar, bass, vocals, drums and keyboards – the 20-year-old wunderkind has produced tracks for Kendrick and J. Cole). Syd handles most of the lead vocals (I have noted where she does not).

I recently read a preview of a new book, Playing Changes by Nate Chinen, that speaks to the current state of jazz. For awhile now I have been thinking the state of jazz is pretty good. My optimism started with Kamasi Washington in 2015, but even before that, the ample sampling of jazz by hip hop artists encouraged me. Although, contemporary music is more fractured then ever, I am pretty convinced that hip hop is the dominant genre of the moment. My wishful thinking is the prominence of hip hop will infect a new generation with a love of jazz.

Which brings me back to Hive Mind, which is certainly not jazz, but it is jazzy.

“Come Together” kicks off the album with a monster bass riff that could be off a Thundercat album. The track has a nice smooth jazz feel without becoming saccharine.

“Roll (Burbank Funk)” has a P-Funk groove. Lacy’s voice is the lead here.

“Come Over” has a Prince meets Stevie Wonder vibe.

“La Di Da” is a nice dance floor jam that would not have sounded out-of-place on Michael’s Off The Wall album.

“Stay the Night” is a quiet ballad that again reminds me of Stevie Wonder.

“Bravo” has a herky-jerky beat and Lauren Hill feel.

“Mood” has a Marvin Gaye Midnight Love groove.

“Next Time/Humble Pie” is two songs in one, just as the title suggests. The first song is about getting up the nerve to ask someone out and in the second song the relationship is tired – an interesting juxtaposition.

“It Gets Better (With Time)” is a gorgeous slow jam. It has a great rap section by guest Big Rube and ends with a rap by The Internet band member Patrick Paige II.

“Look What U Started” is a slo-mo dance floor burner. Classic quiet storm.

“Wanna Be” is a catchy mid paced ballad.

“Beat Goes On” would not sound out-of-place on a late 80s Sting album. Steve Lacy sings the first half of song and Matt Martians sings the second half.

“Hold On” ends the album on a particularly dreamy note.

Overall, this is a very unconventional and adventurous R&B album. It can be mellow background music, but if you listen carefully you will be rewarded with some deep and thoughtful grooves.

I picked up the vinyl edition, but for this review I listened via Tidal Hi Fi. The vinyl emphasizes how slick The Internet are. They are Fleetwood Mac slick. Hive Mind is on par with D’Angelo’s Voodoo as far as production values. It shares Voodoo’s ambition of reinventing R&B. Vinyl releases of new music can be a mixed bag. This is a quality analog mix and a quiet clean pressing.

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One Comment
  1. ‘Jazzy’ got my attention. I will check it out on the catchcroove vine.

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