Words by Brad Yeakel (Opti Mystic Outlooks)
Fort Collins-based music collective, Eufórquestra have been a regular act in the Front Range for a hot minute. I have enjoyed them on multiple occasions, usually in supporting roles. When they really got my attention was when they announced that one of my favorite musicians was producing their new album. Kyle Hollingsworth of the String Cheese Incident has entertained me to no end, and I knew that if he had signed on to produce the album, it was probably going to be good. That wasn't all that long ago, but sure enough, the band has completed the album which was released March 25th.
The title of the first track, "The Price is Right," intrigued me. With visions of Bob Barker crowding my head, the drums immediately set the tone for a funky cut. A super clean guitar dropped in with all the bounce of a Plinko chip. When the horns came in, the familiar Front Range funk emerged and I heard shades of Colorado's dance party machine, Motet. Even the vocals reminded me of Jans Ingber to an extent. I really liked the breakdown in the middle. The effected vocals provided a contrast to the otherwise uber-funky tune. The key change at the end of the track seemed unnecessary to me, but otherwise I was beginning to think that Eufórquestra might be the next contestant.
The title track followed. In a music market with so many similar products, this track helped define the band more for me. While still heavily rooted in Colorado's funk, the track strayed from the norm and incorporated some really cool rhythms and ideas. It felt more like a campfire than a raging inferno, but helped establish the compositional aspect of their style.
"Instant Coffee" was of particular interest to me because it featured keyboard wizard, and first time producer, Kyle Hollingsworth on keys. As the name implied, this tune put some pep in my step. The track had Kyle's signature organ and energy shining through. One thing I noticed during this track was the lack of ego in the band. Every member supported the sound in ways that served the music more than their ego. As a result, everyone had room to get in their licks. The Kyle solo was classic Hollingsworth jam material. The end of the song had some technical changes for variety, but didn't explore those themes as much as they could have.
"Road Funk" had some retro funk that conjured images of Prince, the Scissor Sisters, Jamiroquai, and more. The immaculate edge had a poppy finish, and really made this song more disco funk than the other tracks. The ripping guitar solo at the end caught me off guard and was a nice element to add to the mix.
"Moment 1" was a nice little reggae-infused segue... roughly a minute of chill tranquility in what was otherwise a Mardi Gras party of sound... Ahhh.
The transition to "Solutions" featuring Elliot Martin was excellent. The style shift was subtle and creative. The tune had a vibe somewhere between G Love and The Police. Martin's reggae/ rap fusion added another dimension to the song and continued to add more musical influences to the "Fire." "Wasted" took a more direct rock and roll approach, but still managed to add to the diversity and dynamics of the effort.
"Free" jumped out with a clavichord groove and I was excited to hear the familiar sound. When the vocals hit, I was reminded of Widespread Panic's John Bell with less rasp. The solo work, particular by the sax and guitar were really great on this track. The energy, interplay, and quality of their leads were on par with some of my favorite acts.
"Moment 2" was another brief interlude with a "Great Gig in the Sky" kind of feel. It was a perfect segue into "Take Me Dancing," which was enhanced by the gorgeous and talented Ms. Dawson (Motet( who brought some soul to the album, bringing it out of the streets and into the mood lighting of a club. With keys that reminded me of Joey Porter (also of the Motet), it was hard not to notice how influential the Front Range's musical offerings have been on molding their own blend of styles.
"Momo Lolo" was definitely an opportunity for the horns to get a moment in the sun. On what might have been the jazziest track, Gabriel Mervine's (Motet) trumpet was explosive. I wasn't sure which was more impressive, his high-caliber tone or his flawless chops. Rough combo. Ho ho.
"64-18" was funky with a sludgy feel. The sluggish rhythm was made far more interesting by vocals and horns that simultaneously brought 311 and Lettuce into my cranium. The unique pairing made for a really cool outcome. Once again, I felt the band's egoless approach allowed them to serve the music and really sound more like a rock orchestra than a rock band.
"Moment 3" was another interlude, this one shorter and more atmospheric. The feedback bled into the final track on the album, "All the Light I Need." The relaxed vibe of the song's reggae foundation fit with what seems to be a very friendly, well- intentioned, and talented band. The kind of band that worked well with Hollingsworth's production.
I was truly impressed with the entire album. I have always enjoyed seeing Eufórquestra live, but this album really showed me how dynamic and diverse they can be. Kudos to the band and Mr. Hollingsworth on an album that exceeded my expectations.