The Motet: Staying True to the Sound

Article Contributed by Philip Emma | Published on Saturday, May 26, 2007

It was in a small hipster bar in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia where I met the band for a pre-show birthday dinner for my good friend and road manager Ben Scrimali. The members of the band were extremely down to earth and friendly as we talked about Boulder and the ever changing music of the Motet. After we ate and drank it was time to be merry and mosey over to the Fire, another small bar in the big city.

I used to love seeing the Motet at the Boulder Theatre for years until I moved to Philly, so I was excited to get a taste of my old home place. I really respect the Motet for having the ability and drive to always be who they want to be. Their music is always changing, ranging from their past world sounding funky jam feel to their current jazzy electronic vibe. I know that's one of the things that songwriter/drummer, Dave Watts, prides himself on. Watts has been leading this group on their intricately adventurous journey since the band's start in 1998.

The show opened to my delight with a very jazz inspired jam called "What Have We Done," from their album Instrumental Dissent. After that number, they went into another afro jazz jam possibly inspired by one of my favorite musicians Fela Kuti called "Rich Man's Welfare." Dominic Lalli added the needed horn section for these two gems. Then the energy got spacey with the mellow beginning of "Cat Unicorns," which bridged the gap into the electronic heavy night. One thing that really stood out for me was the stellar play of bass player Garrett Sayers. He really laid it down thick jamming and mixing very well with keyboardist Adam Revell throughout the night. The band played "Lull" next to warm up the small crowd for the combo special of "Afro Disco Beat" into "Johnny Just Drop." This is when the band came together and filled the room. I love the afro beat guitar sound, and Ryan Jalbert provided the licks while the original sound of electronic afro beat surrounded his play. The final song of the night was "Dirty Shoulder," a drum heavy song with a lot of bass and keyboard support.

Overall, I have to say that the Motet always delivers one way or another to me. They always have a different voice, which keeps their fans coming back. I didn't expect as much electronic music out them, but they manage to stay fresh for the challenge year after year. I wonder what Watts and boys will do next...