Beyondsemble – Beyondsemble (Ode/Rhythmethod) CD REVIEW

WHAT IS it about Auckland that the city is suddenly producing so much self-assured acoustic-based fusion music of such tremendous quality? Like robust weeds growing in the cracks of the pavement, groups like Beyondsemble are asserting their presence with albums like this… not just the typical souvenir made by the part-time bar band, but beautiful recordings of artfully arranged and performed pieces.
In this case, four musicians I’ve never heard of with a combination of (as the liner notes state), ‘gypsy manouche, South American, bluegrass, Celtic and circus’.
The instrumental mix is somewhat dominated by accordion and violin, though not to the music’s detriment. There’s also generous portions of acoustic guitar, mandolin and piano, all of it performed exquisitely, with grace and lightness that makes it sound as natural as hey ho. And it’s captured beautifully by the sound engineers at York St Studios, too.
While seven of the tracks are original compositions, a further four are “our own arrangements of covers”, and another three are listed as “traditional”. Apart from the last track, ‘Over The Rainbow’, none of these are spoiled by over-familiarity, and all are distinguished by the group’s unusual acoustic makeup.
My only gripe is that, at times, it can sound a little bit too cultured, too nice, too comfy. Sometimes I wanted the music to break out with a few experimental moves, or perhaps provide a rendition of a song that nobody in their right mind would expect. GARY STEEL
Music = 3.5/5
Sound = 4/5

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