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Wednesday, February 21, 2001

Boundary benders

Posted By on Wed, Feb 21, 2001 at 12:00 AM

Groove Collective is exactly what it professes to be — a musical mutant, refusing to conform to any single genre or style. The group’s statement of purpose dictates, “From this point on, there will be no more barriers, no more forced separations between musical styles, cultures or social classes, because melodies and rhythms are universal languages that don’t need words to be understood.” The New York-based band has toured for almost a decade, combining ear-catching elements of jazz, house, techno, funk and Latin music. When you close your eyes and listen to the group’s most recent recording, It’s All In Your Mind, you are all but physically transported to the white beaches and crystal-clear indigo waters of a Caribbean island. The high points are the solos, which yield much fresh, glistening, juicy fruit for the ear.

The album kicks off with the restrained and meditative “Time Pilot.” “Ransome” begins bouncily like a cheap video game sound track before morphing into a funky, Brazilian-tinged salsa, punctuated by yowling saxophone solos. A similar Latin vein runs through “Stargazer” and “Priye,” complemented by windy flute notes, bongos and a tinkling vibraphone. Other songs are more electronically influenced, such as the throbbing, trancelike “Dance With You” and “Earth To Earth,” which begins with an Eastern melody that quickly evolves into a funk piece, full of synth riffs and obscure percussion. “In Your Mind” is the most experimental track on the album, beginning with a simple piano roll over spacey, watery bass lines, then fluctuating to explore more ambient musical terrain. It makes perfect exit music for a rave, more suited to weary shuffling than the enthusiastic flailing of limbs.

It’s All In Your Mind is impeded only by a tendency to degenerate into timid sound scapes, such as in “Ocean Floor” and “Skye,” where the crisp definition of the individual instruments is sacrificed for jams without solos in which the exaggerated blending yields blandness and becomes weak and unexciting. However, the majority of the album is a fresh and innovative exploration of the fringes of music, an exploration that aims only to prove that the boundaries of music infinitely expand as one attempts to approach them, forever out of reach, yet continuously alluring.

E-mail Joshua Gross at letters@metrotimes.com.

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