Manatee Commune – Manatee Commune – Bastard Jazz BJCD14, (9/16/16), *****:
Folktronica: Blending properties of traditional acoustic & contemporary electronic soundscapes.
Manatee Commune, the musical moniker of Grant Eadie, is a Bellingham, WA raised musician that is pushing the envelope of downtempo music, using some never-before-thought-of techniques, bringing together a uniquely beautiful sound, and all the while he’s sure to get everyone up and moving to his rhythmically-syncopated catchy beats on the dance floor! Manatee Commune is known for blending his field-recorded sounds of nature, electronic synths and production techniques along with a nice dash of live classical instrumentation on viola and his beach-side surfer guitar riffs. In just a short time, releasing the full-length album Brush, and the EP Thistle, he’s gained some strong recognition, especially in the Pacific Northwest where he’s played and headlined festivals like Decibel, Bumbershoot, Beloved Festival, and many others.
And now, after these few years, he’s just dropped his second full-length album, self-titled, Manatee Commune, which gifts listeners with his best production yet – a beautiful journey through atmospheric textures which at times pull your ears in through perfected volume control by drawing your focus in by the soft quietness at times, to natural transitions that raise the music louder at the apexes, while still displaying clarity of every tone and timbre all the while. I must say that it’s as if Grant Eadie guides the listener on an amazingly beautiful musical thrill-ride; Manatee Commune brings us on a profoundly breathtaking outdoor melodic fieldtrip throughout the entire new album. The following are descriptions of some of my favorite tracks:
While every track is an instant hit, the first song, What We’ve Got, featuring the powerful female vocalist of Flint Eastwood, displays all of these wondrous techniques and sound qualities in a tightly-knit summertime-chillout package. The song’s lyrics gleam a love that is known to be special and deep, while the music has an especially bright texture, surprising the listener with the music being temporarily muted at the chorus beat-drops, then exploding into arpeggiated sine wave textures thereafter – a wonderful experience for the un-expecting ear.
Be Still – featuring Marina Price, presents a profoundly authentic experience of becoming one with nature, with the atmospheric textures that make you feel as if you’re in the outdoors listening to Marina Price sing, “Dig deep through the dirt below you – see the sun photosynthesize – turn face to the beams that blind you – it’s all real and it’s alright.” And in this moment, you know it’s true.
Inman has an uplifting deep bass progression with an excitingly different type of rhythm section that explores the more midtempo and glitch-aspects of Grant Eadie’s music production. It brings in sounds of the ocean waves and pitched vocal sampling which sends the listener twirling in a wind-pulled melody off the rim of the Pacific Northwest.
Interlude is the perfect break between the first and second half of the album. While short and sweet, Eadie blends some glitchy Latin American style acoustic guitar playing with further-glitched humming vocals in atmospheric textures of a kickback type party during a friendly ping-pong match.
Clementine begins with orchestral strings that gently introduce the extreme feeling of Marina Price’s voice piercing directly into the listener’s heart. The listener then gets plunged into a bouncy upbeat song with funky synth arrangements. This is bound to be a crowd favorite on the dance floor as it sinks into the quiet breakdown and gradual buildup that leads back to that familiar pulsating bass and groovy synth syncopation.
Sleeping Puzzle makes excellent use of the outdoor nature textures that Manatee Commune is known well for. In fact, it seems to very vividly paint pictures of a walk through a rainforest with movment and colorful life in every view. I can imagine going on any hike and this being my soundtrack of choice.
Outro is short and gentle downtempo piece that is a perfect end to the album, with it’s simple yet profound accompanying viola, xylophone bells-rings, and acoustic guitar mixed with the song’s steady beat – it all leaves the listener feeling accomplished and that the journey is resolved with a sense of simplicity, calmness and ease.
All in all, Manatee Commune’s self-titled album is by far one of the best musical endeavors I’ve heard this year. Whether you’re looking for a new place to escape into the soundscapes of nature, have a soundtrack for your nature walkabout, a dance party, or anything in-between, this album is easily rated a 5/5, with every song being filled to the brim with intention and natural beauty.