Sign of Four Hammer, Anvil, Stirrup

Sign of Four Hammer, Anvil, Stirrup
8
The revival of classic funk and soul has lasted far longer than the original era. What's more, contemporary analog fetishists have mixed up sonic signifiers from the '60s and '70s so thoroughly that, at worst, the results have become beige homages. However, at their best, they can turn into Sign of Four's Hammer, Anvil, Stirrup. Proving that there can indeed by new wine in old bottles, mastermind Ryan Newbold (of the Natural Yogurt Band) lays down live jams that groove hard yet loosely. His melodies are the key to the success of this project — long form and simply rendered, these tunes don't rely on tricky chords or spacey harmonies, even though there's cosmic atmosphere to spare. On a track like "Mirage," he starts slow, with rim shots setting a relaxed pace, but electric piano and vibes soon turn the energy up then down again; it's a three-minute psychedelic symphony. The mix is so clear (not intentionally muddied like so many plug-in abusers) that each individual sound, like the squelchy Perry and Kingsley synths animating "Jumping Beans," is clearly articulated as it whipsaws around your headphones. (Jazzman)