Joe Blessett - Excuse Me
Electro Florida native Joe Blessett seems to be a bit of an enigma. Not much information exists online about him despite the fact that he has released six full-length albums since 2010, as well as an EP and a single. His music is a bit enigmatical as well, as there are so many styles he blends together to make his fantastical creations. His influences are a word jumble of seemingly random genres and artists. Blessett's work can at times be a seamless fusion of merging styles, and at others seem a little tinny and ungrounded. With his sixth album, "Excuse Me", Blessett adds in even more styles and genres to the mix.

Joe Blessett names his influences from almost every modern music genre. Pink Floyd, Kanye West, Jeff Beck and Prince are just a few of the hodgepodge which makes up the lexicon of styles Blessett tries to emulate. John Coltrane and Miles Davis are two more artists Blesset clearly loves, and their style of organized chaos in music has clearly had a heavy hand in directing his song composition. Blessett's other releases all have a strong jazz core as well. He's done very well with this eclectic style, and he plays most of the instruments and does all the production and mastering on his releases. His most recent release in 2013, "Changing Everything", was almost entirely jazz with some funk and electronic mixed in, and it was a beautiful and comprehensive record.

To say "Excuse Me" is a bit of a departure for Blessett would be a gross understatement. I wouldn't say jazz takes a back seat, but some of the other elements he's added in are so loud that the solid jazz core gets quieter, though the mixed up jazz fusion element still largely dictates his song composition. The introduction of rap and R&B into Blessett's recordings is the most jarring thing on the record. The way he uses electronic music and jazz is also completely different than anything Blessett had previously put out.

There are highlights and low points to this album. Obviously when a musician is experimenting with new formats and styles, he may have some messy tracks while figuring it out. By and large, the tracks with no lyrics are the best on this album. The intro title track, rather than an articulate jazz fusion/hip hop piece, ends up sounding a bit jumbled and weird. The lyrics are less lyrics than random spoken pronouncements. It's hard to see what Blessett's point is here. 'That's the Way U Living' and the album's first single, 'Paying Bills' have a similar issue with lyrics to 'Excuse Me.' I'm not sure is Blessett is trying to do them as spoken word over reggae and jazz fusion or if they're supposed to be actual rap with a verse structure, in which case they don't really work. The lyrics are unequivocally off the beat, and rather than sounding like the organized chaos of a Miles Davis or even an earlier Joe Blesset song, it just sounds jumbled.

Whether they have lyrics or not, most of the songs on "Excuse Me" are well-composed and their backing tracks are interesting. One other issue, however, is that with the introduction of more electronic elements, some of the production sounds a bit canned and unprofessional. I sense that sometimes this is on purpose to create echo effects, but sometimes it seems unnecessary or like he was listening to playback on Protools rather than through a decent amp. Again with 'That's the Way U Living,' I'm not really sure why he's done electronic horns when he plays all of those instruments himself. The track would sound much more genuine if they sounded more live.

There are some really good songs on this album as well, but re-stating my point, they are largely without lyrics. 'Taking It Down' shows that Blessett's has potential when adding more electronic music to his jazz fusion template. 'Kali' is arguably the best track on the album; a pretty, only slightly jazzy electronic track which Blessett says was inspired by the goddess of death herself. Really almost everything after 'Kali' is pretty well done, I don't have many complaints.

'Joe Blow' is a great jazz fusion track along the lines of Blessett's old work, showcasing his amazing saxophone talent. 'In the City' is another interesting highlight, as it has an 80s-inspired breakbeat underneath Spanish guitars and a number of swelling electro samples. This is the place where electronic music and jazz fusion meet and do great things, and by this track it seems Blessett has definitely found that place.

It seems as though Joe Blessett's rap and R&B skills will need a little more tinkering, but by-and-large Excuse Me seems to have done what he set out to do. Experimenting with new genres is never a quick or easy process, and hopefully on Blessett's next project those elements which alluded him this time around will lock into place. The lovely thing about Bandcamp, of course, is that listeners can stream and download the tracks they enjoy, so take a listen. This album is nothing if not diverse.
4
Brutal Resonance

Joe Blessett - Excuse Me

7.0
"Good"
Spotify
Released off label 2015
Florida native Joe Blessett seems to be a bit of an enigma. Not much information exists online about him despite the fact that he has released six full-length albums since 2010, as well as an EP and a single. His music is a bit enigmatical as well, as there are so many styles he blends together to make his fantastical creations. His influences are a word jumble of seemingly random genres and artists. Blessett's work can at times be a seamless fusion of merging styles, and at others seem a little tinny and ungrounded. With his sixth album, "Excuse Me", Blessett adds in even more styles and genres to the mix.

Joe Blessett names his influences from almost every modern music genre. Pink Floyd, Kanye West, Jeff Beck and Prince are just a few of the hodgepodge which makes up the lexicon of styles Blessett tries to emulate. John Coltrane and Miles Davis are two more artists Blesset clearly loves, and their style of organized chaos in music has clearly had a heavy hand in directing his song composition. Blessett's other releases all have a strong jazz core as well. He's done very well with this eclectic style, and he plays most of the instruments and does all the production and mastering on his releases. His most recent release in 2013, "Changing Everything", was almost entirely jazz with some funk and electronic mixed in, and it was a beautiful and comprehensive record.

To say "Excuse Me" is a bit of a departure for Blessett would be a gross understatement. I wouldn't say jazz takes a back seat, but some of the other elements he's added in are so loud that the solid jazz core gets quieter, though the mixed up jazz fusion element still largely dictates his song composition. The introduction of rap and R&B into Blessett's recordings is the most jarring thing on the record. The way he uses electronic music and jazz is also completely different than anything Blessett had previously put out.

There are highlights and low points to this album. Obviously when a musician is experimenting with new formats and styles, he may have some messy tracks while figuring it out. By and large, the tracks with no lyrics are the best on this album. The intro title track, rather than an articulate jazz fusion/hip hop piece, ends up sounding a bit jumbled and weird. The lyrics are less lyrics than random spoken pronouncements. It's hard to see what Blessett's point is here. 'That's the Way U Living' and the album's first single, 'Paying Bills' have a similar issue with lyrics to 'Excuse Me.' I'm not sure is Blessett is trying to do them as spoken word over reggae and jazz fusion or if they're supposed to be actual rap with a verse structure, in which case they don't really work. The lyrics are unequivocally off the beat, and rather than sounding like the organized chaos of a Miles Davis or even an earlier Joe Blesset song, it just sounds jumbled.

Whether they have lyrics or not, most of the songs on "Excuse Me" are well-composed and their backing tracks are interesting. One other issue, however, is that with the introduction of more electronic elements, some of the production sounds a bit canned and unprofessional. I sense that sometimes this is on purpose to create echo effects, but sometimes it seems unnecessary or like he was listening to playback on Protools rather than through a decent amp. Again with 'That's the Way U Living,' I'm not really sure why he's done electronic horns when he plays all of those instruments himself. The track would sound much more genuine if they sounded more live.

There are some really good songs on this album as well, but re-stating my point, they are largely without lyrics. 'Taking It Down' shows that Blessett's has potential when adding more electronic music to his jazz fusion template. 'Kali' is arguably the best track on the album; a pretty, only slightly jazzy electronic track which Blessett says was inspired by the goddess of death herself. Really almost everything after 'Kali' is pretty well done, I don't have many complaints.

'Joe Blow' is a great jazz fusion track along the lines of Blessett's old work, showcasing his amazing saxophone talent. 'In the City' is another interesting highlight, as it has an 80s-inspired breakbeat underneath Spanish guitars and a number of swelling electro samples. This is the place where electronic music and jazz fusion meet and do great things, and by this track it seems Blessett has definitely found that place.

It seems as though Joe Blessett's rap and R&B skills will need a little more tinkering, but by-and-large Excuse Me seems to have done what he set out to do. Experimenting with new genres is never a quick or easy process, and hopefully on Blessett's next project those elements which alluded him this time around will lock into place. The lovely thing about Bandcamp, of course, is that listeners can stream and download the tracks they enjoy, so take a listen. This album is nothing if not diverse. Mar 18 2015

Off label

Official release released by the artist themselves without the backing of a label.

Layla Marino

info@brutalresonance.com
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance

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