The second full-length LP from Afrobeat/jazz-funk collective The Brighton Beat sees the band exploring familiar sounds while stretching out and getting comfortable. Off We Go is a confident record that allows each individual player the freedom to work out lengthy solos but works best as a platform for punchy ensemble playing.
From the eponymous opening track, the album keeps a steady pace. Against a hypnotic rhythm section, The Brighton Beat’s horns slowly build dynamic, swelling bursts of notes in tandem with cool organ and percussion. As the ensemble horn playing dissipates, each player is given room to cut loose.
While the saxophones and trumpets of the horn section consistently begin with slow, searching instrumentals and arrive at melodically satisfying climaxes, the guitarists often present crunchy and shredding lines upfront. This leads to meandering guitar solos; so much tonal information is presented upfront that it overwhelms the listener and leaves no room for further exploration when the melody needs a final push to go over the top.
Each of the 10 tracks takes their time in execution. Most stretch out to at least six minutes in length, with a few breaching eight or nine minutes. This relaxed approach results in an easy listen: The players are clearly having fun. On the centerpiece “Fortune Teller,” for instance, each brass instrument takes a few measures to float against the muted swell of the ensemble, giving the album an improvisational feel.
In spite of these heady, atmospheric soundscapes, the issue of meandering rears its head too often. On songs that stray from focused, intensive rhythms—like “Fortune Told”—the resulting ambience is unrewarding. On “Red Orange,” the horn solos begin confidently and with fiery machismo, but too many musical statements are guilty of going unanswered.
If anything, Off We Go is a showcase of fine ensemble playing and talented instrumentalists. The group has found a rich, infectious Afrobeat groove that will undoubtedly play out well in a live setting. Although on the record the compositions could be tighter, the solos just a few bars shorter, and the playing a bit more upfront, this is a band with serious promise.
- Dynamic horn sections
- Intelligent instrumentals
- Punchy, infectious grooves
- Unresolved musical ideas
- Tendency towards meandering solos