Review: Weston/Saxon Groove Assembly: Acceleration

Groovy. Every track on this record has a characteristic groove, mood, and personality. The album, which comes with a poem inspired by it by Steve Shelton, is about coming and going and changing and curving and accelerating. Such themes are scattered like so many constellations in the tracks, which seem to wander, march, or race.

A quartet comprised of drummer Grant Calvin Weston, percussionist Jonathan Saxon, bassist Steuart Liebig, and keyboardist Wayne Peet, Weston/Saxon Groove Assembly meld together a unique sound. Astoundingly, the four did not play all together; Grant recorded in Philadelphia, and the other three recorded in LA. The sound is so well mixed both as individual tracks and compared to the others that nothing ever feels missed, but each piece feels balanced.

The first track, “Take it to the streets,” is atmospheric at the beginning, then adds a tribal beat with a sci fi groove strongly reminiscent of N64 racing games. “Stutter step” is an upbeat, organ-strong piece with dissonant suspensions over constant cymbals, descending into madness and suddenly resolving back to its tonal, upbeat groove. “Third Floor” is relatively barebones, and again reminds me of N64 soundtracks, which lends it a nostalgia factor, though I somehow doubt that was really the intention. At track four we reach the title track: drones and claves build the Twilight Zone-esque atmosphere, and the emptiness of the sound makes it expansive in space, like a rift in reality. “Road trip to Downey” was the song that kicked off the idea for this album as a percussion duet – it starts with a pleasing groove and adds in more instruments until a sudden acceleration, and then instruments phase out, an effect deemed ‘classic’ for good reason.

“Juno” is perhaps my favorite track, opening with a piano solo reminiscent of Debussy’s style, and the stereo hocketting percussion throughout the piece quite simply made me feel happy. “All systems go” opens with an electric mbira solo and adds in other-worldly distortion. I’ve hinted at it and now I’ll say it: the album either evokes nostalgia for something it may not have thought to intend, or is very science fiction. The eighth and final track, “Observations at dawn,” is the most sci-fi of all. Drones, tapping percussion, and foley sound effects from Jonathan acutely evoke dawn as you’ve never seen or heard it before.

If you like jazz, atmospheric, or electronic music, this album is sure to tantalize and please. It gives a little something for everyone, and the eight unique songs blend into one exhilarating album.

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