Eclecticity: Positive Peace

Upon initiating the latest release from local soul/jam/blues band Eclecticity, the first thought any sane person will have is “oh my god, an hour and fifteen minutes?!” Given the nature of the band’s music, the listener is in for a lot of music.

Their first full-length was a fairly tight, succinct bit of focused jamming, and that mode carries over to Positive Peace, but there are simply more ideas present. While before you could hear each song’s root idea and the rest seemed to be a noodle or two derived from the idea, this album has more consistent movement from feeling to feeling, idea to idea. The sparse use of vocals, ably and fittingly well-done, allows the instruments to form a very expressive mosaic of sounds. It’s hard to write with any direction about music that seemingly tries to defy directness, though, and a track-by-track would be grossly inappropriate, as it really plays like a classic record with cohesive sides and movements.

Everyone plays really well all the way through, without anyone hogging the spotlight. Guitar and horn solos are very tasteful and the phrasing, especially sax and trombone, is wonderful. The use of Leslie keys is perfectly employed when playing in the pocket or really backing up the riffs.

What is challenging, though, is that there are parts that really flesh out and say something on their own, while nearly as many just kind of sit there and are without doing anything. It’s an impressive body of work in and of itself, with good chemistry and dynamics between musicians, but while they often suggest an image of ‘jammin’!’ there are some moments that sound like no one stepped forward to deliver the necessary lead line or imply the next part, and the next part just kind of happens. Does that ruin, or even detract from, the experience? By no means. Merely a contrived point of criticism. Also, the production is fantastic, with the horns, bass, and keys forming a perfect wall of lushness. Seriously, the production is beyond excellent.

Overall, this album would play seamlessly with the classics. The creative riffing and superlative sounds make for a great listening experience, and the positive message will age a lot better than the typical pity-party lyrics of popular music. This is a watershed work for an amateur group, and should bring them much acclaim as they step up to the pro ranks.