I have this stupidest smile on my face, and I cannot wipe it off. Since I got in contact with the wonderfully bright band, The Flowdown, it’s been difficult to not groove with their bombastic beats. For anyone unaware, The Flowdown are an NYC-based funk, jazz, soul, or whatever you want to label them group that combines these compatible realms of music into an intense journey through sound. The band has everyone take part in leading, whether it’s in rapping/singing, laying down a great beat, or kicking off a section with a great solo. Not only that, but they’ve been noted by jazz legend, Blue Note Label Group’s CEO Bruce Lundvall as, “… A true fusion of jazz, rock, R&B, hip hop and reggae. The band is very exciting live, the writing is impressive and the musicians are at a very high level”. That alone should be convincing any skeptics.
With one album released back in 2011 titled Metamorphosis, The Flowdown have been off the the races showcasing their brilliant renditions of classics like Herbie Hancock’s Head Hunters or The Weather Report’s self-titled fusion masterpiece. The beauty of Metamorphosis is that it’s extremely accessible. Opening with a track of the same title, the funky and grooving opening sets the tone for the rest of the album. I noticed how fore fronting the drums are, and how much talent the members carry. Even the singing is top-notch from the get-go.
What separates the band from other contemporary groups of the same genre is that they never stop their energy. Pulling from the likes of Herbie Hancock, De La Soul, Marvin Gaye, A Tribe Called Quest, Pharrell, and The Weather Report, the group combines the different aspects of music into one cohesive ball of sound. These different elements blend together in the second track, “Detached Spine”, which flows like the Head Hunters leading track, “Chameleon”. The two rappers vocals flow from a Pharrell-like flow to a hugely Snoop Dogg-esque style, which somehow fits like a puzzle piece in this jumpling track. The electric piano solo follows the track out, and it just goes and goes until the guitar leads the song to a conclusion. This track proves what The Flowdown are capable of.
What a lot of bands are trying today, The Flowdown nail on this album. The interludes on this album are just phenomenal. There are three that follow every two or three tracks. Titled; “<breathe>”, <giving>”, and “<cosmic smile>”, they set the tone for the next few set of tunes. Following the first interlude, one of the star tracks on the album is, “Move Straight”. With slick flow and great vocals, they slide like butter over top the super sonic beats. Evan Lytton, the drummer, sets the bar super high for other performers on this song. His lightning fast drum & bass beat even overshadows the smooth guitar solo. Another great track that stuck out for me was, “Live Each Day”. I’d say on some days it was my favourite. The groovy opening progresses into a strong lyricism section that would be killer live, “Rise up everyday rise up! / Feel the love coming down like the sun!”. The band follows with insanely creative solos that change throughout the slowing time signatures and speedy build ups.
I had a lot of fun listening to this New York-based group. Their solos are creative, they know their instruments better than themselves, and they work so well together. The only knock I have is there isn’t enough of The Flowdown in their music. As a young group, they pull from many influences in the past, but haven’t completely found themselves as a band. I mean, it’s extremely hard to compare them to many mainstream or even local funk bands, because there aren’t many musicians doing this style as a main idea. The fact is that the band is unique for today’s standards, but I want to hear something in future releases that make me say, “That is The Flowdown!”. I have a feeling they’re almost there, but it’s up to the members to figure out what it is that they want.
That statement aside, I’m a big fan of this big band. The band is already at a standard where they blow any competitors out of the water. The jams are funky, the sound is smooth, the musicians are talented, and the band is fun. In the end, the band has that image that they’re trying to make their music as fun as possible. Luckily, they succeed in that with Metamorphosis, and I’d be hard-pressed to anyone who couldn’t find a track or two that they’d enjoy. If you’re a fan of the classic funk sounds of the 70’s, a 90’s rap guru, or looking for something that defines the word ‘fresh’, be sure to add The Flowdown to your playlist.
Also, be sure to check out their bandcamp here at: http://theflowdown.bandcamp.com/album/metamorphosis
I’ll end with this great band video of theirs that includes the title track, “Metamorphosis” in it: