Higher Octave Music
On Nocturnal, the duo Four80East offers cinematic, groove-driven compositions in the ambient mode, but with a critical difference: thankfully, these fully-realized pieces lack the frustrating abstraction that dominates the genre. Instead, keyboardist/guitarist Rob DeBoer and percussionist Tony Grace craft carefully constructed layers that can blossom into diverse pieces, from the bustle, swoop and swing of "Bumper to Bumper," to the reflective, mode-changing "Wake and Bake." A note of caution, though: these uniformly slow-developing tunes require patience on the part of the listener. It takes a while to build on the familiar light R&B ballad textures of "Wait It Out" with gentle note-bending guitar and other haunting, floating layers, for example. The rewards are often worth the wait, however, whether it's the elegant spy piece, building intrigue through haunted trumpet on "Shakedown," the cunning, classic retro-funk build (featuring Jon Stewart's muscular tenor riffs) of "Sweet Tooth" or the growling, offbeat and amused vibe of "Hazy Lazy."