Paul The Trombonist – Journey To The World – Album Review
YOU…as listeners…as readers…as music-fans that are every bit as rabid and unrelenting as I am – yes YOU…the people that are always looking for something different that satisfies the ears with a truly innovative ideas that are boldly unique from the rest…I think we’ve got something seriously special here for you today. Even for YOU…the people out there that say it’s ‘all been done’ or that ‘new music sucks’ – yes that’s right, even though people probably stopped inviting you to parties YEARS AGO, I’m inviting YOU to this one…because this is the kind of idea, execution and sound that will prove you wrong and help open your mind a bit more to the potential and possibilities that still reside within music.
For instance…what if I told YOU that there’s a strong chance that a TROMBONE-led electro-instrumental album has real potential to end up on top-10 lists this year? You’d probably think I was crazy right?
Well meet Paul The Trombonist, the dude who made this combination a reality; I’m assuming he has to be slightly crazier than you’ve assumed that I am – he wrote it, played it, performed it…I’m usually just the guy that writes about what he hears going on and speaks the truth on independent music. But in situations like these…rare finds where the ideas are so immaculately unique, passionate and perfectly arranged…I’m not just ‘the guy’ – I’m like, one of the ‘luckiest guys’ in the world in my opinion; it’s a straight-up privilege to be able to listen to something this different from the rest of what’s happening out there. And not just different – but combinations that truly work; and what I mean by ‘luckiest guy’ is the fact that finding something like this is completely akin to scientific discovery or solving a mystery – it’s absolutely that satisfying to uncover an album like this.
His credentials are staggering…and it takes no time at all into listening to Paul The Trombonist’s new album, Journey To The World, to hear the depth of imagination and skill he brings to music. At first you might even assume it’s a clever name only as the electro-pulse of “Enchanted Garden” starts the record, until the trombone kicks-in with a beautifully subtle, textured-jazz that fits stunningly alongside the music. I recognize completely…that this very idea might seem like a far-fetched possibility…but I’m telling you right now – however good you might think this idea could potentially be, multiply that by at least ten or a hundred and you might come somewhere close to the realm of how quickly you’ll be impressed by what Paul The Trombonist has pulled off here. He’s got plenty of experience in electro-music as a DJ as well…but make no mistake, that’s legit trombone you’re hearing in the music he makes – no samples here; he’s the real deal.
The opening notes of the trombone in “Enchanted Garden” make all the difference in the world; they instantly sell your ears on the idea of this combination and show you exactly how smooth this can truly be. Accompanied by insightfully creative electro elements swirling, firing-up and pulsing into the mix – Paul The Trombonist begins this adventure like the music is gliding along on a cushion of air; everything sounds amazingly inviting, curious and captivating. As far as first impressions go – “Enchanted Garden” establishes the exact kind of impact an artist/band always seeks to make in creating that instant curiosity in us all as listeners and true wonder as to what might come next. Paul immediately delivers satisfaction with a mind-blowing construction in “Far Far Away” – a song as single-worthy as an instrumental can possibly be. The hooks are incredible…Paul leaves himself alone on the trombone cleverly at the song’s beginning – and once the beat kicks-in here, this song becomes altogether amazing. Very much like a Four Tet-style of electro-combination here…think something like the sound you might know from their single “My Angel Rocks Back And Forth” and you’ve got something similar – but with the added awesomeness of vitamin T(rombone). From its smart beginning to expanded ideas strengthening its middle, excellent breakdown and perfect bringback – everything about “Far Far Away” works and works and works – this is a fantastic tune.
So…by now you’re already experiencing what I’ve been experiencing for sure…or at least, you will be when the record officially comes out in March…in two songs, Paul The Trombonist has already made a massive impression and he’ll go on to provide another incredible highlight with the stunning balance and sincere melody in “Popcorn Butter.” Pure freakin’ genius if you ask me…the combination of beautiful electro atmosphere and absolutely jaw-dropping textures and tones added in via Paul’s trombone; the mix and balance of every element combined is exactly what real harmony sounds like. Absolutely gorgeous ideas here…like what you’d imagine a combination of Beirut and Styrofoam might sound like with its crisp & clear electro-beat meeting the emotional addition of the trombone. I thought the contrast on “Popcorn Butter” was incredible…there’s so much movement in the up-tempo pace of the beat itself, yet Paul has everything else slowed-down, mellowed-out and bringing extraordinary depth to the overall idea. The trombone, like you’ll notice just past the minute-mark, has the ability to pick up on and deliver a new part of the melody at any given time…the texture and tones are amazing to listen to, truly; listen to the breakdown as he approaches the 2:30 mark and how incredible that sounds to the ear! Beautiful…absolutely beautiful…”Popcorn Butter” is a highlight example of how well the combination of trombone/electro can work at its most finest & vibrant.
The album’s title-track, “Journey To The World” is a short & dreamy tune…closer to the purity of Paul’s jazz-influence than many of the others by comparison to the combinations of electro usually added-in. Slow, subtle & equally beautiful however…I like the mystique in the writing, mix and overall sound here. He’s drawing on classical-jazz ideas, sounds and experience on “Journey To The World” – you get that dose of movie/soundtrack magic here that really resonates with stunning emotion & expression. Perhaps the most subtle & charming tune on the entire record, “Journey To The World” is decidedly different in its sound and approach from the rest, yet still feels like it belongs. If anything, its low-key mood/vibe does make the arpeggio-electro beat of “Light Speed” a bit more difficult to accept at first with such a contrasting sound & energy…but I think it’s something that’s quickly forgotten as “Light Speed” takes us cruising to the middle of the record. While it might not have been my favorite for the writing personally – I also can’t lie to ya, the execution is flawless and the production is beyond-stunning, whatever the word for that is – it’s that. Manic & wild, “Light Speed” is still quite an impressive ride and set of ideas offering a ton to the ears…and it also makes for another rad shift in the album’s energy when it comes slamming to a halt and into “A Very Bright Day.”
Ideas like “A Very Bright Day” come across so purely, honestly and sincerely in their ambition and sound. The energy of this tune is absolutely infectious in all the right ways…and I think it’s songs like this that really highlight the depth of skill in what Paul brings to the trombone. As much as I think he’s got ALL the right pieces in place here from the electro-beat to the samples used – this is a true case of it’s not always what you play, but the passion you play it with. The energy, mood and attitude of these songs is quite often dictated by atmosphere that the trombone is supplying; you can hear how much character he brings to these songs on moments like this and how he plays the instrument so perfectly matching the spirit of the music surrounding him. Tremendously vibrant and a massive pleasure to listen to – “A Very Bright Day” is as honest, humble and sincere as electro-melodies can sound, I love this tune. Heading towards the two-minute mark of this cut, you’ll hear one of my favorite solos on the entire album…the expression, emotion and passion that Paul The Trombonist plays with is beyond commendable – this guy should completely be a household name. I know it’s one I’ll remember from this day forward, no doubt about it.
Just like a great record should, Journey To The World continually finds new ways to impress as it progresses…every time I was sure I was hearing what would be my favorite song, an equally amazing song was right around the corner. At the core of its second-half switch is one of the strongest examples of that with “A Very Bright Day” and “Hey My Love” meeting back-to-back. I loved the inspiring tone of “A Very Bright Day” and instantly couldn’t get enough of it…but knowing that the more mysterious & serious rhythms of “Hey My Love” would occur only moments later made the beginning of the record’s second-half even sweeter. You could call “Hey My Love” a moodier song in a sense…I liked the pronounced synth-bass/electro combination, loved the beat…but just like his moniker promises, this is Paul The Trombonist – and that trombone is exactly what makes the real magic in this tune happen. Again, not just what he’s playing but the passion and proficiency of how he plays it – Paul gets amazing emotion out of both the trombone and surrounding electro elements. “Hey My Love” is darkly expressive, almost melancholy or mythical in its energy & vibe and another solid checkmark in the win-column for this record.
Songs like “Light Speed” from earlier on and “Time Traveler” here now have a tougher time standing out due to the incredible material surrounding them, but they’re still valid contributions to the overall record. The main beat & foundation of “Time Traveler” was a bit on the repetitive side for myself personally, even though I thought Paul did a good job of breaking it up with clever breakdowns…the part itself is so defined that when the electro runs through its repetitions, it felt a bit lengthy in that sense. If you’re listening to these songs, and indeed “Time Traveler” for the trombone aspect – there is SO MUCH to love and to listen to. While “Time Traveler” might not have been my favorite song overall, it did end up having some of the best moments for Paul’s trombone’n! Excellent solo-work here…I love that he’s so unafraid to let that instrument truly take the lead in 90% of the tunes he writes…the combination works so amazingly well that it’s absolutely left me stunned throughout my listenings.
What am I supposed to do though? Am I somehow supposed to NOT love “Lifted?” You can file this cut under ‘amazing’ wherever you store your music. Sincerely…I think the world of what Paul The Trombonist has done with this record…a song like this brings me right back to when I first discovered some key electro for myself like Prefuse 73 or Boards Of Canada way back in the day…maybe a bit of Four Tet in there as well for good measure. All of those electro-acts/artists had the key ability to really make the most out of minimal sounds and get the maximum out of every sound, just like I feel like Paul has done throughout this record but certainly here on “Lifted.” The chilled-out electro-vibe is at its peak & apex here…the surrounding low-tones of the trombone make for the perfect addition into the mix and draw the idea out in-full; easily one of the most satisfying cuts on Journey To The World.
I found one of my favorite moments right at the end of the album with “The Victory Dance.” Moments – not songs necessarily mind you – there’s a difference to be clarified there. I’m not always going to be in the mood for a song like “The Victory Dance” on its own – that’s just the straight-up…but at the end of this record, I can’t imagine a better ending truthfully. By the end of this experience from the nine songs I heard previously already, I was pretty much guaranteed to stand up and cheer for this album even with no one else around to witness that happening…which is always kind of a strange thing…but you get what I mean – these are exactly the kind of unique ideas you want to encourage in music and the exact kind of album you truly do want to support and cheer aloud for. To celebrate that with Paul The Trombonist at the end of the record with “The Victory Dance” continually brought a wicked smile to my face every time it came around to this final point on the album – I don’t blame him for celebrating one bit; this entire record is a real achievement of stunning ideas, unique & clever combinations in sound, and seriously flawless execution. I don’t exactly know what I was expecting with Paul The Trombonist – but I know I got way more out of this than whatever those expectations could have been, Journey To The World is a sincerely brilliant record.
The official release date for Paul The Trombonist’s Journey To The World is March 7th, 2017. Stay connected to the details and find out more about Paul’s adventures at the official homepage: http://www.paulthetrombonist.com