The Motet | Totem | Review


Submitted by -Patrick Giblin Thu, 07/07/2016 - 7:09 pm

Funk-flash masters The Motet out of Denver, CO are releasing TOTEM on July 8, 2016, the 7th LP since their inception in 1998.  The Motet consists of Dave Watts (drums), Garrett Sayers (bass), Joey Porter (keyboards), Ryan Jalbert (guitar), Gabriel Mervine (trumpet), and Drew Sayers (saxophone), and recently added Lyle Divinsky (vocals) with TOTEM being his first album with the group.  While The Motet are traditionally categorized as a funk band, their influences and expressions range outside of traditional funk to soul, R&B, West Coast Boogaloo, Disco, Jazz, Afrobeat, Dance, and Electronic, and all of these influences and their overall musical dexterity are put on display in TOTEM.  The Motet is known for their high-energy, diversified live performances as well as their musical costumes.  They have played shows that were tributes to Earth, Wind and Fire, The Grateful Dead, Michael Jackson, Tower of Power, Talking Heads, and even Madonna.  The anagrammatically named album, produced by Eric Krasno (Lettuce/Soulive), once again proves their musical abilities span beyond that of their memorable live performances and translate into a danceable studio product.

The opening track “The Truth” comes at the listener like an avalanche, with polyrythmic-Afrobeat percussion, deep-in-the-pocket bass lines, keys and auto-wah guitar layered over the rhythms and funk-soul vocals of Divinsky and Nigel Hall (Lettuce) that drive the track to multiple crescendos.  The second track “Fool No More” is a disco/dance song that features a variety of guests, including Jans Ingber (formerly Motet) & Jason Hann (String Cheese Incident) on percussion, Tanya Shylock (True Blue Band) on vocals, Adrienne Short (Con Brio Trio) on Violin, and Phil Norman on Cello.  “Know It Too Well” offers more traditional funk rhythms, with the support of Kranso on guitar, Matt Pitts (Motet) on tenor sax, and Divinsky’s soulful voice serenading throughout.  There is a break mid-track that takes the song off a heavy cliff, only to land softly right back into the rhythms and Divinsky’s vocals.  “Rippin’ Herb”, “Solar Plexus” and “Cloak and Dagger” are classic instrumentals for the genre, à la Lettuce, that feature Afrobeat percussion, staccato horns, envelope-filter guitar, jazzy saxophone, and slinky bass rhythms.  “Damn!” was the single that was released early in anticipation of the album and for good reason.  This is a track that harkens back to the classic funk sounds of George Clinton, Sly Stone, and James Brown.    “So High” returns back to the disco/dance sound and includes Pitts, Krasno, Short, and Norman as guests, as well as including Eric Bloom (Lettuce) on Trumpet and Paul Robertson (Soul Rebels) on trombone.  “Cretan” offers a bit more on the exploration of electronic-rock meets West Coast Boogaloo with a driving instrumental that would certainly be right up DJ Greyboy’s alley.  “Danger” and “Back It Up” are jazzy, R&B tunes with a real New Orleans groove and some spatial jams tightly woven into the compositions.  The closing track “Contraband” pulls out all of the stops for a reggae-funk instrumental collision, testing musical heights that hadn’t been tested previously throughout the album.         

You can catch The Motet this Summer/Fall at festivals such as Peach Fest, The Werk Out, Camp Euphoria, Camp Barefoot, Bumbershoot, or Suwanee Hulaween, as well as headlining shows at Red Rocks on 7/22 with Medeski Martin & Wood and Vulfpeck, the Belly Up-Aspen on 7/28, and Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael on 9/1. 

The Motet – TOTEM

1. The Truth     

2. Fool No More

3. Know It Too Well      

4. Rippin' Herb 

5. Damn!         

6. Solar Plexus

7. So High       

8. Cretan         

9. Danger        

10. Cloak and Dagger  

11. Back It Up  

12. Contraband


Produced by Eric Krasno and The Motet. 

Recorded at The Parlor Recording Studio, Scanhope Sound, Colorado Sound, Notably Fine Audio, and Halo Studios. 

Engineered by Nick Guttmann, Matt Grondin, and Josh Fairman. 
Mixed by Mike Irish at Shifted Recording Studio and Scanhope Sound, except “Cloak and Dagger” Mixed by Alan Evans at Iron Wax - Millers Falls, MA. and “Contraband” mixed by Joel Scanlon at Scanhope Sound.